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The Gulf, the Arabs and the Iranian Threat - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The UAE has territories currently occupied by Iran and is trying to solve the political crisis without escalation or international intervention. This issue might not concern many other Arabs as long as Iran continues to claim that it wants to eliminate Israel and supports Hamas and Hezbollah; why should the Arabs care even if Iran occupied the entire Gulf region? Arab double standards have, unfortunately, become the norm, even though UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed tried recently to convince his Arab counterparts that the occupation of the UAE islands is no different than Israel’s occupation of Arab territories and that no Arab land is dearer than another. This is not true, Sheikh Abdullah, and sadly we are all aware of this fact.

The painful blow came in 1990 when several Arab governments and organizations backed Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait and the displacement of over a million people as a result. The invasion itself was far less painful as it was just another political crime in a region that is familiar with such practices. But what really hurt the people of the Gulf was the sheer disdain [for them] and delight for the invasion of their country that they witnessed on hostile Arab streets.

To get half of the Arabs to cheer and support him, it would have been enough for Saddam Hussein back then to have said that he wanted to liberate Jerusalem by invading Kuwait and displacing its entire population. Saddam promised to distribute the profits of the Gulf oil revenues to the rest of the Arab states to make Arab governments seize the Kuwaiti airplanes stationed at their airports and to take over Kuwaiti businesses located on their soil in an act of daylight robbery.

This leads to the question that we might be forced to confront one day: what if Iran attacks Bahrain or any of the Gulf States in the future? Which side will the rest of the Arabs take? Would they stand with Hezbollah or with Bahrain? Would they sever diplomatic ties with Iran or call for a conference to be held so that Iran could be granted more time to strike the rest of the Arab facilities in the Gulf? Would the Arab media hail the Iranian statements and promote Western conspiracy theory to justify Iran’s occupation of Gulf territories? Would US-Arab organizations endorse the assault just like they did with Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 despite being sponsored by Gulf States?

Whether or not this disaster takes place, the Arab problem is an ethical one that is not limited to the Gulf region or any other region. The truth must be told; all Arab territories should be treated equally without drawing a distinction between Jerusalem and the island of Abu Musa. Actually, the truth must be told on a much larger scale by condemning any aggressive act regardless of the nationality or ethnicity of the perpetrator. It is not enough to describe a military attack as aggression only if it is committed by Israel. We should not justify crimes committed against other Arabs just because the perpetrator’s stances are supportive of Arab rights.

Whether or not the day we fear actually comes, i.e. the day that we find ourselves confronting a country in a state of military and political uproar, the fact remains that the Arabs are still divided over Iran. It seems there are parties that are yet to learn their lesson from the inter-Arab conflict during the nineties, despite all the pain it inflicted and the tragedies it led to.

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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