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Playing Iran with home-field advantage - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Iran’s Supreme Leader claims that the West is seeking to promote what he described as “Iranophobia”, or anti-Iranian sentiments. The truth is that with the revelation of the Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to Washington, and the international response, this is the first time that the international community plays Iran with home-field advantage, approximately since the 1980s.

Khomeini’s words about “Iranophobia”, which are echoed by some ill-informed people among us today, are untrue, and evidence of ignorance. Rather, what is happening today, and the international response to Iran’s plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador, which may yet bring Iran to the guillotine of the Security Council, represents the first time that is Tehran feeling the gravity of international pressure, and its serious nature.

Hence this is the first time that the international community is dealing with Iran with home-field advantage, and although this is a sports term, it explains a lot about the international situation with Iran. From the year 2005 onwards, I would say to all those who have met with the Iranians, whether US, Saudi, or some Arab officials, your key problem with Iran is that you did not play with them on their home turf. Tehran instead is exploiting your resources, through agents or even through alliances with enemies such as al-Qaeda. It is playing on ethnic and sectarian divisions in your region, exploiting the Palestinian cause, and allying with the Muslim Brotherhood without attempting – even once – to play its opponents on its own territory.

The Iranian mosaic is more complex than Lebanon or Iraq for example. It has a population of more than 70 million, amongst them millions of Sunnis, in addition of course to the Shiites. There are also many Arabs, who are non-Persians, and whose rights are compromised, just as there are also Kurds, Baluchis, Ahwazi Arabs, Turkmen and Armenians. There are also religious minorities such as Baha’is, Mandaeans, Zoroastrians, Aliarsanyen, Jews and Christians. Despite all this, and despite Iranian interference in our region and other Islamic states, no one has once tried to say to Iran that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones!

Iran is interfering in Bahrain under the pretext of supporting the Shiites, while there is not one Sunni mosque to be found in Tehran! It is interfering in Iraq, hence rubbing America’s nose in it, with help from the al-Assad regime, and though al-Qaeda and its Shiite counterparts. A few weeks ago an Iraqi official told me that numerous Sunnis have been swept under the sand, in fact not only Sunnis but also honorable Shiites in Iraq who do not accept Tehran’s intervention. Iran is also doing “wonders” in Lebanon, where it has established Hezbollah, members of which are accused of assassinating the Sunni leader Rafik Hariri.

Tehran itself supports Bashar al-Assad, a man from a minority leadership which governs the majority in Syria with an iron fist, so it is not surprising that the al-Assad regime representative to the Arab League rejected condemnation of the Iranian terrorist plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador!

This is not all; Iran also interferes in Yemen through the Houthis, and in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, through bombings and incitement, the latest example being the incidents in Awwamiya. Tehran has also occupied islands off the coast of the UAE, and has extended its terrorism to Nigeria and Sudan through weapons smuggling. Furthermore, Iran has supported and continues to support al-Qaeda, ever since the late 1980s. Despite all this, Iran has not been challenged, even once, to play their opponents at home, who would believe this?

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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