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The Red Carpet for Ahmadinejad - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Iranian President Ahmadinejad, I believe, has visited all his neighbors across the Arabian Gulf as part of a political campaign intended to explain Tehran’s viewpoints on regional issues. I do not know whether or not he succeeded in convincing the leaders of Gulf states, but political contact remains the best tool in political action.

Iran is a key player that has a hand in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine and hostile activities in some Gulf states. Above all, it has a nuclear project that scares the region more so than it does Israel, the United States or Europe that have embarked on missile protection against Iranian armament.

The misuse of differences is escalating year after year, leading all of us into a complicated state of interlacement. In Gaza and Beirut over the last few days, it is easy to see that a single telephone call is capable of devastating the region. Look how many Palestinians have been killed by Palestinians in the Fatah-Hamas conflict that broke out all of a sudden, and how Hezbollah’s and the Supreme Shia Council’s mouthpieces opened fire on [Lebanese] Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, recreating previous events and proving that a telephone call could spark a war and how another could put out the fire in a show of strength that presents some regional leaders as mere puppets manipulated in public.

This is regrettable as there are no real issues. How else can one account for what Palestinians are doing to each other, and that goes for the Lebanese as well as, except by saying that it is serving [the interests of] foreign parties.

We all realize that Iran is a key state that deserves appreciation, but it cannot serve its interests this way. At the same time, we know that President Ahmadinejad has a strong personality and a hardline vision that we are concerned may push him or his allies towards uncalculated confrontations. We are living in a time similar to that of Saddam’s Iraq in terms of declarations, tension and negative activity, and can see history repeating as naval vessels build up in the Gulf waters, threatening statements increase and regional states race to accumulate weaponry and sign foreign defense agreements. That is, due to the difference between Iran and the West, we have a stronger foreign presence, greater military activity and extended areas of tension that surround rather than serve Iranian interests.

It is Iran’s right to demand security guarantees. The Gulf States will undoubtedly be willing to defend Tehran’s point of view if this is put on the table instead of resorting to building a nuclear weapon and triggering proxy wars in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. Iran’s security is linked to that of the other Gulf states and worth offering legal and international guarantees. Without direct and open talks between regional countries we would be thrown back two decades in time.

It is painful to see a repetition of the 20 years that Saddam Hussein had wasted on similar adventures and that ended in the current situation. This is something we want neither Iran nor the region to go through.

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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