Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

A Second Balfour Declaration? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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It is a reassuring sign that last week in New York, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, agreed to continue discussions with the Gulf Cooperation Council member states, Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq on the issues of security in the Middle East and the Gulf, and the Iranian nuclear file.

The information revealed [so far] shows that the West understands the fears of regional countries with regards to Iranian interference in their internal affairs, not to mention their fears of Iran’s insistence on incentives including playing a role in regional security!

The Arab countries left the New York meeting with assurances from the West that Iran will not be granted any regional role at the expense of the region itself. One of the attendees told me, “We felt that they were understanding and genuine.”

Oman and Qatar both boycotted this meeting of course, as the Omanis believe that Tehran must be engaged in dialogue. The fact that Iran was not invited to participate in this meeting in New York is an important message, the significance of which Iran is well aware. Therefore, we hope that our friends will not surprise us in the upcoming Gulf summit due to be held in Muscat by sending an invitation to [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad.

As for the Qataris, before the information of Western incentives to Tehran could be revealed, I heard the Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim say that his information indicated that the West intends to give Iran incentives, including a regional role. The Sheikh then said, “Why should we wait until we become part of the deal, we are the first to resolve our issues with Iran.” This is true, but should we then rush to hand over our own interests to Iran in order to reassure it when it is in fact Tehran that should reassure us?!

Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is a serious threat to our region, not Israel. Amid the Israeli threats against Iran, Tehran always responds threatening the security of the Gulf. If the West fears the missiles that Iran claims it is developing, then we fear the Iranian bombs that are planted among us!

The simplest example of this lies in last Friday’s demonstrations in Bahrain. [The political leader of Hamas] Khalid Meshal repeatedly called for Arab demonstrations and received no response. Yet when [Hezbollah Secretary-General] Hassan Nasrallah made similar calls for demonstrations in support the people of Gaza, even some Bahrainis took to the streets. Furthermore, the Bahraini protestors went so far as to pelt security officers with stones. What happened in Bahrain cannot be described as anything but a demonstration of power by the high-commissioner of Iran in our region, Hassan Nasrallah!

It is so odd that the King of Bahrain [Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifah] instituted reforms in his country and relinquished some powers for the sake of his country and people, whilst some people [in Bahrain] are surrendering their decisions and freedom, not to mention their country’s constitution, for the sake of the high-commissioner of the Wilayat Al Faqih.

As for the West, the New York meeting was an important reminder to those who believe that Iranian possession of nuclear arms would satisfy its arrogance and make it more rational. This is not true, as possessing nuclear weapons has not made India or Pakistan any more rational, nor has it prevented their extremists from causing destruction and carrying out murder.

The importance of the New York summit lies in the fact that the West can feel the concern of regional countries and that the meeting was like sending a clear message to Iran that there will not be a second Balfour Declaration as the West, which does not own [the area] perhaps understands that it does not have the right to place our security, and the future of our children, in the hands of those who do not deserve it.