0n March 9, this is what we wrote in our column To the Point:
"Thanks to the United States, Iran has found a strong foothold in Shiite-dominated Iraq. Now, thanks to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), Iran is freely fulfilling its foreign policy goals of gaining the upper hand in Syria and Yemen and is becoming a serious threat to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries.
"While the world is busy trying to ‘contain' ISIS, Iran is furthering its expansion in Yemen, with Shiite forces taking over the country. The fact that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states host a large Shiite community signals more trouble on the horizon as Iran continues its quest for dominance. Turkey has to move with Saudi Arabia and other friends in the region to halt the dominance of the Shiite element through practical and solid measures."
As you see, dear readers, once again we hit the nail right on the head.
Saudi Arabia and Gulf Arab countries started a joint operation against the advancing Shiite militants, called Houthis, who are currently ruling Yemen. Saudi Arabia and its allies said the Shiite militants supported by Iran have overthrown the legitimate government of Yemen led by Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and that the time has come to end this aggression. The Houthis, who represent the Zaidi offshoot of Islam, descended into Sanaa last year and took over power in February, forcing Hadi to flee to Aden. The Saudis and their Gulf allies launched air attacks and are now poised for land operations. Turkey has strongly supported the Saudi intervention and the Americans have said they will support it with their logistic capabilities and intelligence facilities.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday night that Iran is trying to dominate the region and that it has to stop intervening in Syria, Iraq and Yemen and withdraw its forces from these countries. He said the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is in Iraq under the pretense of fighting against ISIS, but in essence Iran is actually there to take over from ISIS and thus dominate Iraq. Erdoğan also said Turkey is prepared to provide logistical support to the Saudis and their allies.
So as we predicted, the Saudis and their allies had to intervene and Turkey has sided with them. All this was inevitable in view of Iranian opportunism in the region. Iran, just like Israel, is exploiting the mess that has been created in Iraq and Syria and is trying to gain the upper hand. Yet, what they are doing is unfortunately nothing but sowing the seeds of sedition and a serious sectarian conflict in the Middle East between Sunnis and Shiites.
Those who mean well, led by Turkey, in the region are doing their best to avoid fights between Muslims and, above all, open the door for sectarian conflict. Iran should be contributing to this effort and yet we see that Iran is playing a completely different tune, which is a prescription for catastrophe.
No one should try to use ISIS to bring Islam and, above all, bring Sunnis to disrepute. Iran should not try to exploit the global hatred of ISIS to hurt Sunnis and thus weaken them to be able to dominate the region. Such adventures will always be short-lived and Iran may well be the grand loser at the end of the day.
With Iran acting so irresponsibly and aggressively in the region Turkey has to be extra prepared for all eventualities. This means we have to get our house in order and properly concentrate on the regional issues as we head for the elections and the struggle with the peace and reconciliation process with Turkey's Kurds.