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The Issue Does Not Yet Justify War | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The position of the majority of responses from those who commented on one of my recent articles entitled ‘The Saudi Corridor and the Israeli Strike,’ made me curious. Some people believe that it is not hard for a state like Saudi Arabia to confront Iran militarily. One person asked why fear Iran? Why skirt around the issue? Somebody else commented reminding us that Saddam Hussein, with his limited capabilities, confronted the Iranians for over eight years and another person rejected my statement that Saudi Arabia will not get embroiled in a confrontation with a state three times bigger than it in terms of population such as Iran, indicating that Israel, a tiny state, is more powerful than all Arab countries.

There is important debate about an unconceivable confrontation between Saudi and Iran, which was brought about by claims by The Times newspaper that Saudi Arabia has given permission for its airspace to be used by Israeli jets to strike Iran. I had gotten used to most people who comment [on my articles] objecting to the idea of confronting Iran but what was noticeable this time was that the majority was for confrontation. Of course this is where we differ because states should never engage in wars unless they are compelled to do so out of self defense or to protect their supreme interests that must be protected. We really are not at the stage that we feel threatened in order for us to push for calling for war. The second issue is that every war bears a heavy price and whoever comes out of it in one peace and perhaps victorious then its damages are bigger than the joy of victory at the time. It is true that the Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was not crushed in his war with Iran but hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed and the war cost the country a significant amount of its resources. It was a similar situation for Iran which continued to turn down mediators and offers of reconciliation for six successive years until Ayatollah Khomeini accepted a truce. He admitted that accepting the truce was like drinking a cup of poison i.e. it was against his will. Iran and Iraq both lost the war with horrendous costs.

I would like emphasize that the call for confronting Iran has become acceptable in the hour of necessity, out of self defense, but it is unreasonable to involve a country like Saudi Arabia or any other state by saying it will allow the Israelis or anyone else to use its airspace or territory to wage war against a state like Iran.

A decision like this means entering a war the outcome of which nobody knows. And of course fighting Iran, which is home to 77 million people, would not be a walk in the park, nor would any war no matter how small it starts off. With regards to a state like Saudi Arabia, it has spent a great deal on building its industrial and petrol structures and services and it knows that it would lose a great deal of what it built if it engaged in a war with its Iranian neighbor that has not built anything and has only few achievements for it to worry about. This is the big difference between a country like Iran, which spends its money on the military and on wars and on chaos, and between a country that has built a lot internally and raised its local levels, such as the Gulf States that always avoid entering regional battles.

I know that many are keen on seeing a war with Iran and that there are rumors that it is just a matter of time before there is a battle with Tehran. Whether or not that is true, pushing the Gulf States towards the confrontation goes against the nature of these countries and drags them towards a series of battles that will not stop at Iran.

I believe that the biggest threat to the Iranian regime today does not come from Israel or the US but from Iran itself as it failed to suppress [its people] internally. The Iranian internal crisis is what will change the equation.