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An Emergency Meeting for the Turkish-Iranian Alliance - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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I am not particularly sensitive about the idea of establishing a league states neighbouring Arab countries, even though I believe the current proposal, put forward during the latest Arab Summit held in Sirt, is wrong and harmful to Arab security. Yet I can’t understand why the Arabs are in such a hurry to incorporate Turkey and Iran into the Arab League, as if it was an emergency matter.

What is there such urgency to incorporate these two countries, into a league notoriously slower than a tortoise? What possible benefit would the Iranians offer the Arabs, when the former are up to their ears in international and domestic problems? Furthermore, what could the Turks possibly provide, considering that they failed to enact revenge on Israel, for killing nine Turkish citizens at sea, during its attack on the Freedom Flotilla?

In my opinion, the whole situation doesn’t even deserve the cost of the flights, which the Arab governments will pay for their delegates to travel to the urgent meeting. Rather, why not leave this matter to join the rest of the Arab issues, which have been standing in the line to be addressed by the League for years. Nothing will change, whether or not the Turks and the Iranians join the Arab League.

I will summarize the story briefly. Experts from the Arab League once uttered the following expression: “a system of joint Arab action”. This is an ambiguous expression, and will not wake the sleeping delegations of the Arab League. They then went on to utter another phrase: “It is necessary to establish a league for our non-Arab neighbours.” This is another ambiguous expression, because a “Neighbouring League” could refer to up to eleven countries including Ethiopia, Senegal and Chad. The picture became clear later on, after the delegations returned to their countries. What was meant by the word “neighbouring”, in this context, was Turkey and Iran, or to be more precise, Iran. Some Arabs woke up in panic to discover that the decision would be approved, without even a vote!

It was thus clear that the prestigious expression “system of joint Arab action”, merely meant the inclusion of Iran! This is a serious decision, and an extremely alarming matter, without precedent in the history of the Arab League. This project will open the door for the Iranian wolf, to step into the farm of the Arab lambs. As a result, Arab countries have rushed to condemn and reject the decision.

This is not Iran’s first attempt to infiltrate the heart of the Arab World, and its extremist regime is not merely content with ruling Gaza and Lebanon today. Previously, it formulated a plan for a quadruple alliance of Iran, Turkey, Syria and Iraq. But the idea aroused fears from the other countries, especially because the plan seemed to target the annexation of Iraq to Iran, whereas the rest other countries would serve as a facade. The alliance did not work, so a new term was coined, called the “system of joint Arab action”, with the intention of incorporating Iran into the Arab League. Again, Turkey was only included as a facade. So will the Arab states accept an alliance involving the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, and Ahmadinejad, whilst half of them are in a state of hostility and military alert towards Iran?

No one is apprehensive about Turkey, because so far it has shown no explicit ambitions, and plays a positive role. It is possible to cooperate with Ankara on all levels on a bilateral basis. No member of the Arab League would object to cooperating with Turkey on bilateral and collective levels, in all fields ranging from importing agricultural products, to seeking military cooperation. However, many would turn down an offer where the Turkish cat would be sold alongside the Iranian camel. The relationship with Iran is still one of fear, caution and even rejection.

Nevertheless, the entire situation would change if Iran provided firm guarantees that its nuclear program is not a military one directed against the Gulf States, that their cells and networks, both sleeping and active, in the Gulf region, have been withdrawn, and that their plan to control Iraq no longer exists. Then they would be welcomed to join the Arab League, and the whole Arab region.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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