Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Do Not Naturalize Them…Do Not Push Them Away - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

A strange paradox has revealed much of what is going on in our region after a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry criticized the UAE for not extending the residency of a number of Iranians living there. In fact, the Iranians spokesman expressed his surprise at this move by the UAE, saying that it is not in the interests of either country, and adding that he “expected the UAE officials to provide the Iranian citizens with services, [especially] taking into account the role Iranian citizens played in building the UAE’s economy and development.”

This took place at the same time that Iranian news websites were celebrating the news of the demonstrations which were taking place in Bahrain in protest against the so-called political naturalization [of Sunni Muslims in Bahrain]. Whilst a report on Iranian “Alalam” news website read “All of this makes us wonder whether the official system [in Bahrain] is actually working at targeting stability and civil peace via irresponsible policies, persistently agitating the citizens, sophisticatedly harming and humiliating them, and restricting citizens lives, security, and politics?! [And also] whether it [the regime] is still justified in talking about reform, development, and unity?”

Very well…so which of these two models should the Gulf States adopt?

Should the UAE, for example, honor the Iranians residing in its territory and send them a message of gratitude for serving the UAE and participating in building its economy – as the Iranian spokesman said – or [on the other hand] should Bahrain refrain from naturalizing [Sunni residents of Bahrain] as this would affect its social composition – as the Bahraini opposition claims – and which is something echoed by the Iranian media, and therefore deny and expel all those [Sunnis] who served Bahrain?

Which of these two models should be implemented in the Arab Gulf, for what the Iranian media is currently doing in confusing, as Tehran is upset with the naturalization in Bahrain, whilst at the same time alarmed by the non extension of the residency of some Iranian citizens in the UAE. The Iranians believe that Bahrain should respect the Iranians residing in their territory despite the fact that Iran is currently occupying a UAE island, and refuses to bring this case for international arbitration, despite the volume of economic exchange between the two countries.

Here we say that it is important to look at the big picture when examining some of the issues being put forward, especially those which stir up public opinion, specifically in the Gulf and particularly the two issues which we are in the process of discussing. Naturalization and citizenship are not the basis of [religious] sect or anything else, rather serving and respecting the country, and [working towards] the country’s interests, rather than external interests [forms this basis]. A country – any country – must come above everything else, and even above sect as well.

The problem here is with Iran’s official and media position with regards to the issue of the naturalization law in the Kingdom of Bahrain, as well as the Iranian residents residing in the UAE whose official residency has expert. This problem lies in the double standards and contradictions in Tehran’s position, as if the world is not following up and monitoring [this].

Therefore there must be caution in dealing with Iranian proposals which aims at preoccupying public opinion – particularly Arab and Gulf public opinion – even if the slogans and issues are not the same.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

More Posts