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Why Are They Provoked By Saudi? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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What do hardline, right wing Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and an Iranian cleric called Mohammed Baqer Kharrazi have in common? The answer is their hatred of Saudi Arabia.

According Russia Today’s website, Israel’s Maariv newspaper revealed that Israel was preparing to launch a global propaganda campaign against Saudi Arabia as part of a secret mission led by Avigdor Lieberman to embarrass the Saudi regime in front of international courts on issues to do with the status of women and human rights.

The newspaper indicated that over the next few days, Lieberman would convey to the US a strong-worded message in which it would accuse Saudi Arabia of funding anti-Israeli activity and that he would ask Washington to exert pressure on Riyadh to put a stop to that. Maariv also mentioned that Lieberman would utilize Jewish pressure groups in the US and Europe to instigate US congressmen against Saudi Arabia by accusing it of funding what Lieberman describes as terrorism all over the world.

With respect to the Iranian Shia scholar, Mohammed Baqer Kharrazi, who is described as not highly influential in Iran’s clerical hierarchy despite belonging to the Hezbollah of Iran, AFP reported that Kharrazi called for the establishment of what he called “greater Iran” that would rule over the Middle East and Central Asia.

Kharrazi considered that such a transformation would pave the way for the coming of the Hidden Imam.

Kharrazi said that establishing an Islamic united states is an essential objective for the [Iranian] Hezbollah, which he heads. Kharrazi indicated that he hoped to attain such a goal if he wins the next presidential elections in Iran. He said he dreams of a “greater Iran” that extends from Afghanistan to Palestine and heralds the appearance of the Mahdi. He believes that the establishment of “greater Iran” would lead to the destruction of Israel and Iran’s neighbouring rivals that he considered “cancerous tumours.”

Of course at the top of the list of Iran’s neighbouring rivals that this Mullah described as “cancerous tumours” that ought to be removed is Saudi Arabia. According to the fanatics within the Khomeinist regime, Saudi Arabia, not Israel, is their archenemy. For them, Israel is nothing but a tool with which it can milk people’s feelings and create areas of influence against states that are independent of Iran by using the Palestinian trump card.

One cannot say that Israel and Khomeinist Iran share identical views and motives regarding their position towards Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy. Unlike those who embrace narrow-minded doctrinal currents, we have always called for rejecting generalizing and stereotyping as every incident and every case has to be examined individually. But it is noticeable that there are identical feelings of intense hatred for Saudi Arabia from two parties that have declared their hatred for one another.

Just as some conspiracy theorists from among Sunni radicals, pan-Arab fanatics or Iraqi Baathists claim, one cannot say that the declared hostility between Iran and Israel is nothing but a put-on show to drain the Arabs (according to pan-Arab nationalists) or the Sunnis (according to fundamentalists).

For Israel, the Iranian nuclear threat is an obvious threat, because the Israeli golden rule for national security is based on the idea of achieving comprehensive military superiority and eliminating any source of potential danger, especially as the Lebanese Hezbollah that revolves around the Khomeinist orbit has already gone to war with the Hebrew state, and is still threatening to fight other wars as well, not to mention the media campaign launched by Iran against Israel, and we all know how Israel rushed to bomb the Iraqi nuclear reactor in its early stages. That is Israel’s position towards Iran.

As for Iran’s position towards Israel, we find that it is more ambiguous and complicated and perhaps there is an ideological aspect to it as well. However, it is mostly practical, as there is no way for Iran to penetrate the Arab wall and infiltrate Arab communities except by capitalizing on the Palestinian cause and concentrating on the Persian state’s “unparalleled leading role” in resisting and fighting Israel at a time when the Arabs have “betrayed this cause.” This Robin Hood image flows with milk and honey in Iran’s propagandist paradise despite the fact that Iran’s emergence on the Palestinian scene is accidental and relatively new and the fact that the Palestinian cause is not as well established within the Iranian conscience as much as it is within the Arab one.

The nature of the relationship between Iran and Israel is not the main issue here. It is their hatred of Saudi Arabia that brings them together that grabs our attention. This does not only exist between these two extremists [Avigdor Lieberman and Kharrazi], but also within the corridors of power in both Israel and Iran. Mullah Kharrazi might be representing himself alone or his current, that is, Hezbollah of Iran, but this total disregard for the Gulf states and the adoption of a condescending tone with regards to these states was also adopted by Hossein Shariatmadari regarding Bahrain and other Gulf states. Shariatmadari happens to be the media advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and editor-in-chief of Kayhan.

The Iranian regime acted hysterically by insisting on naming the body of water that separates Iran from the Gulf States the “Persian Gulf” instead of the “Arabian Gulf.” The “Islamic” republic ought to abandon such fanatical instincts because they are un-Islamic!

Saudi Arabia will continue with its foreign policy that is based on rigidity and sound judgment without paying any attention to Iran’s uproar and its verbal outbursts, which are nothing but an attempt by Iran to impose its leadership on the Muslim world. Iran sees Saudi Arabia as an impregnable bulwark getting in the way of achieving this goal. This might be the source of heightened tension between Khomeinist Iran and Saudi Arabia, or the political-intellectual formation of this conflict, not to mention the eco-political struggle over influence between the two.

Back to Israel; why is Lieberman trying, opportunistically, to launch a campaign against Saudi Arabia, accusing it of violating human rights and supporting terrorism? According to Maariv daily, Lieberman began to plan this global campaign against Saudi Arabia after the Israeli Foreign Ministry reached the conclusion that Saudi Arabia was the main entity behind the international campaign aimed at stripping Israel of its legitimacy. Maariv quoted Israeli officials who said during closed discussions over the past few days that Saudi Arabia was funding a massive campaign against Israel’s legitimacy and economy etc. and that they would have to put a stop to it.

This was not the only thing that angered Netanyahu’s Israel. Saudi Arabia’s positive policy towards the peace process was another cause of Israel’s anger. Saudi Arabia introduced King Abdullah’s Peace Initiative in Beirut. It is in a state of open discord with Iran, and is one of the most active countries worldwide in terms of fighting Al Qaeda and its elements on the intelligence and security levels.

It is very true that Israel could find no other way to attack Saudi Arabia except by repeating the usual accusations about human rights and women’s rights as well as religious fanaticism. It is true that Israel has shown barefaced opportunism and a lack of morality in tarnishing Saudi Arabia’s image across the world regarding human rights and women’s rights. Whenever Israel talks about human rights, it speaks with outrageous immorality and barefaced craftiness.

If Saudi Arabia did not represent a form of international pressure on Israel, which refuses to proceed with the peace process and refuses to establish a Palestinian state and freeze settlement construction, Israel would not have mounted this campaign against Saudi Arabia. However this must not make us fall into the trap of demonizing human rights, refusing to discuss the issue, or branding those who champion human and women’s rights as traitors under the pretext that Israel uses these issues against us. This is wrong and by doing this we would be serving Israel by committing ourselves to a warped logic and immature conduct. Do we have problems? Yes, there are problems with those issues. This is why human rights organizations and societies were established and this is why newspapers are filled day in day out with features and stories about extremism and religious fanaticism. They both exist in our societies, and the fact that Israel is trying to cash in on that does not change reality.

However, I must say we are much better off now in Saudi Arabia. Our society is developing and interacting and the government under the leadership of King Abdullah is keen on sponsoring national dialogue on such issues, starting from women rights to tolerance and fanaticism. We definitely do not need the smear campaigns of Avigdor Lieberman and the likes of him.

What pushes Lieberman and those who insult Saudi Arabia in Iran is not its internal problems and conditions but rather its foreign policy that is founded, as mentioned above, on rigidity and sound judgment or what is known as soft power. Because they were profoundly provoked, they focused on Saudi’s domestic issues and searched for anything that would help them downsize the foreign Saudi role in a world that has become smaller and smaller.

The best way to react for Saudi Arabia to those campaigns is to maintain its foreign policy and to stay on the same path with regards to its internal policy based on reform and change and completely ignore the likes of Lieberman from among the fanatics in Israel, the West and the East, as if they never existed.

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

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