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Why We Fear Iran - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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It is important to understand why each one of us has a different position concerning Iran. Most of the Arabs outside of the Gulf region believe that Iran’s possession of a nuclear weapon is a positive development that achieves a balance of power with Israel. The Gulf Arabs, however, believe that the power of Iranian nuclear deterrence represents the biggest danger of a military threat. The conflict with Iran, although it is calm for now, could erupt at any moment. This is in addition to the fact that even without the nuclear escalation, there is a real fear of Iranian expansion in southern Iraq, which is adjacent to the Saudi-Kuwaiti borders.

Iran would not bomb Syria or target Jordan or Egypt, despite that it would be exposed to nuclear fallout if Iran bombs Israel. It is completely farfetched that Iran would bomb Israel, taking into consideration that the latter has a deterrent missile force, huge firing capabilities, and an arsenal of nuclear weapons that are strong enough to wipe out all of Iran’s cities. In addition, any bombing of Israel could lead to the immediate devastation of Palestinians over a vast area. Consequently, it is unlikely, if not impossible, that Iran would think of aiming its future nuclear bombs towards Israel or other Arab countries (in that region). This means that the only possible target, in case the destructive weapon is used, would be the Arab Gulf.

Here, regrettably, the Arabs would be divided into two camps, similar to what happened during the occupation of Kuwait. One Arab camp does not care for the Gulf through its political calculations, which always supports any verbal threats to the United States and Israel regardless of the real victim, such as the case was in Kuwait. In fact, this camp is now defending Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The Hamas government has hastened to adopt a loyal position towards nuclear Iran. This position is hostile towards the Gulf regardless of the verbal political content of its phrases, which justified the Iranian “rights” to nuclear energy.

The second Arab camp is represented by the Gulf countries, which, during the crisis of any conflict, always adopt two contradictory positions. The first position supports the Arab rights and the other, fears for their wellbeing. Saddam’s occupation of Kuwait awakened the Gulf countries and destroyed the trust that once existed within inter-Arab relations. The Gulf politicians have no doubt that Iranian uranium enrichment represents the ability to build a nuclear weapon, particularly after it had developed missiles and reinforced its military capabilities.

There is no real potentiality other than Iran using the nuclear weapon against the Gulf, or threatening its use to obtain large concessions, in other words, entrapping the region to Iranian political conduct.

Iran’s conduct in the Gulf has been viewed negatively despite its expressions of Islamic solidarity and cordial relations. When the Gulf was preoccupied with the liberation of Kuwait, Iran had suddenly occupied the remaining part of the Abu Musa Island, which belongs to the United Arab Emirates. It was also engaged in military clashes with all the Gulf countries except the Sultanate of Oman. Therefore, the fear is justified, particularly after Iran’s new escalation through the development of its forces, weapons, and purchases, as well as the enrichment of uranium. Fear will push the region towards competing for buying weapons, which do not serve anyone in our region and which would only benefit the sellers of these weapons in the West, namely, Russia.

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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