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Iran and the Bahraini Lesson - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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After a wave of criticism and the Arab stances that have been taken regarding Iran’s recent statement that the Kingdom of Bahrain is an Iranian province, Tehran, through a foreign ministry spokesman, rushed to say that Iran respects the sovereignty of Bahrain and has no ambitions in any country.

Iran’s statement about Bahrain is nothing but another example of the tension that Iran is sowing in our Arab countries. Tehran’s comments are nothing new, nor do they come as any surprise. However, what is different about this issue, or rather what the Arabs must learn from this incident is the following: the reactions that came from the Arab world, such as the clear, strongly-worded statement from Saudi Arabia against Iran’s comments, the visits of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah of Jordan to the Bahraini capital of Manama and the reactions of Kuwait and the UAE, are what pushed Iran to come out and say that it respects the sovereignty of Bahrain.

The positions taken by influential Arab states against the comments made by Iran represented a clear and strong message that Iran quickly understood. It realized the danger of the situation. This is what the Arabs need today to confront Iran’s harmful endeavors in our region.

In the past we saw how the arrogance of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah reached the degree that he attacked Egypt. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah believed that by making one fiery speech against the Egyptian regime, millions of Egyptians would take to the streets and threaten the regime just like that. However, nothing of the sort happened. In contrast, the Egyptians and the Arabs became mindful of the danger posed by Iran and the Iranian alliance in the region. And for those who were in doubt, it demonstrated that Iran’s goals were at odds with our regional goals; it was as simple as that. This has only been proven further by actions carried out by Iran and the Iranian alliance in the region and not by some points of view that are expressed every now and then.

Therefore, a decisive stand must be taken by influential Arab states that strive for Arab solidarity, as it is clear that Iran can only comprehend a frank and clear language and not diplomatic statements that can be interpreted in different ways.

Moreover, it is understandable that the Bahrainis were upset with their Qatari and Omani brothers who failed to release any statement in response to Iran’s comments that Bahrain is an Iranian province. Even Doha expressed its position [against Iran’s comments] at a later stage.

We are all aware of the fact that one of the most important reasons behind establishing the Gulf Cooperation Council was to protect [member states] against the ambitions of regional powers. Tehran’s comments about Bahrain were exactly like the statements made by deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein who once said that Kuwait was a province of Iraq. The situation ended up in the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait.

The lesson that should be learnt from Iran’s comments about Bahrain is that any comments of this nature must be taken seriously. These comments should be condemned strongly and should not be shown any tolerance.

Furthermore, the best way to confront Iran’s ambitions is by unifying the ranks of influential Arab states. There is no room for politeness or silence and no one can say that this is just a Bahraini or Egyptian or Saudi issue etc, because that would be sending the wrong message.

Iran defied the region in an unprecedented manner and since the 9/11 terror attacks, Tehran has believed that the opportunity is ripe for exploiting the preoccupation of strong Arab states and the recklessness of Washington.

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.

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