Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Doha Dialogue | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The dialogue that took place in the Qatari capital Doha was important, whether this was the dialogue that took place on the sidelines of the US – Islamic World Forum, or what happened during the Forum itself, where it was revealed to us that we are failing in getting our priorities in order, and this includes our security priorities.

This is no mystery, and the best example of this can be seen in the dialogue that took place between US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and students in Doha, with one of the students commenting on the statement issued by the US Secretary of State by saying “Iran is free to acquire nuclear weapons. Why does the US have the right to deny this to Iran?” While another student said “She (Clinton) says that Iran’s neighboring countries feel threatened, but I think it is the US that feels threatened and wants to drug us into conflict.” Hilary Clinton’s response was to say that the apprehension of the Gulf States far outweighs that of Washington with regards to Iran’s nuclear intentions, and she confirmed that these countries “do not want to live in a region where they feel that they are under threat.” This is not all that happened in Doha and [renowned Egyptian sociologist] Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim asked Secretary of State Clinton for Washington to put pressure on his country’s government. How are we supposed to understand this request?

Iran is occupying an Emirati island, and it is doing what it is doing in Iraq, and is supporting the Huthis, and infiltrating Gulf States via its financing operations, as well as financing Hezbollah which occupies Beirut with its arms and money, in addition to strengthening inter-Palestinian division, and this is not to mention 31 years of exporting the revolution and fueling sectarianism and fundamentalism, and above all else, the continuous Iranian statements that the Arab Gulf lies within the range of its missiles. After all of this, how can our youth not believe that Iran is a nuclear threat to us?

How have they not realized that half the Iranians, if not more, oppose their government today, and are facing government repression not because they – the opposition – want nuclear weapons, but because they want a strong economy and a decent life, and normal relations with the world?

This is indeed puzzling; for the Arab or Gulf youth who have the best education believe that Iran is not a threat, and their view [of the situation] is extremely divorced from the view of their Arab governments. I am not saying that these governments want war with Iran, but they certainly feel in danger from Tehran. And what is stranger than this is to see an educated man who calls for democracy, such as Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, calling for Washington to put pressure on his country’s government. Has the Doctor not realized that change coming from abroad is unfeasible, has he not seen the reality of what happened in Iraq, for example?

This is something that can only be read as a flaw that is affecting our region culturally and politically, and reveals that there is a state of imbalance and errors in how are priorities are arranged, and that [also] we have a generation [of youth] that are divorced from reality. An Arab official told me that the upbringing [of our youth] via politics and the media in our region ignores the dangers that are besetting us, and focuses solely on the conflict with Israel. Unfortunately this is true, and of course we are not saying that the conflict with Israel is a secondary issue, but that despite the disasters that beset us from coups, wars, and terrorism, it is easy for others, whether this is Iran or anyone else, to exploit our causes and destiny. This is a threat which is no less dangerous than the threat from the Arab – Palestinian conflict.