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Ongoing Saudi-Iranian Proxy Conflict likely to worsen amid Hajj Row after last year’s stampede

University of Paris political science professor Khattar Abou Diab told VOA Saudi Arabia thinks Iran is trying to harm it as well

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Muslims During Hajj. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The ongoing proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia appears to be worsening after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, scolded Saudi leaders over their alleged responsibility in last year’s hajj stampede. Pro-Iranian media have also been playing up recent pro-Iranian Iraqi Shi’ite militias sending “volunteers” to fight Saudi coalition forces in Yemen.

Iranian state TV broadcast video Tuesday of victims from last year’s hajj stampede. Tehran says hundreds of its citizens were killed and Saudi Arabia has lied about the real number of casualties.

Hajj Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Hajj
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The television report played up blistering comments by Khamenei calling Saudi leaders “little Satans and apprentice political sorcerers who ignore God and maintain their unholy grip on power” by allying themselves with what he called the world’s arrogant nations, generally a reference to the U.S. and Israel.

Saudi Arabia’s head of security for the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, General Ahmed Ahmedi, refuted the Iranian claims of Saudi negligence and insisted the kingdom does its utmost to protect visitors to the Islamic holy sites.

He said Saudi security forces take the greatest pains to serve the visitors to the holy sites and offer them the best security from their arrival to their departure.

Former Iranian president Abolhassan Bani Sadr, who lives in exile in France, told VOA the hajj pilgrimage is just one facet of the ongoing conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Propaganda, economic war

Bani Sadr said Khamenei is accusing Saudi Arabia of committing crimes against Muslims during the hajj, but added that Iran is guilty of crimes in the region. He said Iran and Saudi Arabia have tried to dominate the region, creating rival alliances from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon, and sowing death and destruction.

Bani Sadr stresses that there is a “propaganda war” taking place, alongside actual fighting in the battlefield, and an “economic war” that Saudi Arabia is waging against Iran by pumping excess quantities of crude to drive down prices and suffocate Iran.

University of Paris political science professor Khattar Abou Diab told VOA Saudi Arabia thinks Iran is trying to harm it as well.

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He said Saudi leaders have the impression Iran is trying to encircle it by way of its maneuvering in Yemen, Iraq, and the Gulf. He argues there is a danger of the ongoing proxy war developing into a direct conflict if world powers do not act to avert it.

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Pro-Iranian media emphasized Monday that Yemen’s Houthi rebels have developed new ballistic missile technology and are capable of striking deep into Saudi territory. Forces loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh have fired modified SCUD rockets into Saudi territory, but it remains unclear how many they still possess. (VOA)

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Know About the Concern Over Fluctuating Oil Prices due to Coronavirus Outbreak

Global Stock Markets Plummet on Oil Price Drop, Coronavirus Fears

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Oil prices
Stock markets plummeted across the world, plunging on dual concerns over oil prices and the economic effects of the coronavirus. Pixabay

By Ken Bredemeier

Stock markets plummeted across the world Monday, plunging on dual concerns over oil prices and the economic effects of the coronavirus that has spread to more than 100 countries. This is a breaking news.

Key exchanges in New York fell more than 7% Monday, following a 5% drop in some Asian markets, while European markets closed down about 8%.

The widely watched Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 key U.S. stocks closed down more than 2,000 points Monday for a loss of 7.9% while the S&P 500 fell 7.6%.

The steep decline at the New York Stock Exchange triggered an automatic 15-minute halt in trading to temporarily limit losses to 7%, a provision last employed in December 2008 in the depths of the recession.

Investors were spooked by plunging oil prices, with Brent crude, the world benchmark, falling more than 24% to $34.36 a barrel, on top of the coronavirus fears sweeping the globe. U.S. oil prices for West Texas Intermediate, a Texas light sweet crude, dropped nearly 25% to $31.13 a barrel.

The world prices of oil fell on fears that Saudi Arabia, launching a price war with one-time ally Russia, would flood the world market with oil in a bid to regain market share.

The plunge in oil prices was the worst since the Gulf War in 1991. Strategists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. warned oil prices could fall into the $20s.

Oil prices
U.S. oil prices for West Texas Intermediate, a Texas light sweet crude, dropped nearly 25% to $31.13 a barrel. Pixabay

Volatility has consumed markets around the world amid the coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 108,000 people and killed more than 3,800 people. At least 10 billion shares have traded on U.S. exchanges each day for two weeks.

U.S. stocks are now down 19% from a peak they reached last month.

U.S. President Donald Trump offered his rosy assessment of the stock market plunge and dropping oil prices, saying on Twitter, “Good for the consumer, gasoline prices coming down!”

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More broadly, he laid the blame for falling stock prices: “Saudi Arabia and Russia are arguing over the price and flow of oil. That, and the Fake News, is the reason for the market drop!” (VOA)