Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Why Not Let Iran Host the Arab Summit? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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There is talk circulating nowadays about the possibility of inviting Iranian President Ahmadinejad to the upcoming Arab Summit in Damascus. ‘Analysts’ have rushed to thrust Iran in our issues saying that there is no harm in inviting Ahmadinejad, especially since he was invited to the last GCC Summit in Doha [December 2007].

Before I elaborate on this, I recall writing an article on Tuesday 4 December 2007 in which I objected to inviting Ahmadinejad to the Qatar summit – with knowledge that the invitation was not issued by the GCC Council but rather by the hosting state. Moreover, the Gulf summit is a regional summit, not an Arab one.

Today, if some, especially the Syrian regime and its supporters, want to say that inviting Ahmadinejad is for the sake of rapprochement with Iran and a testimony to good intentions, and if the Syrian regime, the Hamas leadership, [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] al Maliki’s government, Syria’s supporters in Lebanon, and other Arabs want to legitimize Tehran’s intervention in Arab issues, and since rapprochement with Iran stems from avoiding embarrassment rather than a rational decision – then why not hold the summit in Tehran?

The Arabs can go to Iran to attend the summit and bless the Iranian regime’s attempts to interfere in Arab issues and meddle with our states and security and they could hand over the reins to Tehran. Unfortunately, this is what remains of an era defined by Arab loss and fear and evasion of the necessary confrontation.

At a time when Iran’s Supreme Guide [Ali Khamenei], commenting upon the events in Gaza, said, “It is the duty of Muslims to rise and take action and the Arab leaders must strike the occupational regime empowered by the anger of their people,” we find that Iran has thrust itself in our affairs without having to fire a single direct shot to defend Arab land and rights.

As soon as the Americans toppled Saddam’s regime, Iran jumped at the opportunity to covertly exercise occupation in Baghdad and control Iraq in a more sophisticated manner than Hezbollah’s practices in Lebanon.

Tehran does not hesitate to undermine the Al-Sahwa Forces [Awakening Protection Forces] in Iraq, which is blatant sectarian tampering, so as to support its loyalists in the Iraqi government and the militia groups affiliated to it in Baghdad. Sectarianism is a game that Ahmadinejad’s Iran has mastered in our Arab world.

But that is not all; when Lebanon was ravaged by Israel throughout the summer of 2006 because of Hezbollah, Iran’s agent in Lebanon, Iran never fired a single direct shot in defense of Beirut. Israel struck what it deemed to be a nuclear reactor project in Syria and Ahmadinejad, from New York, declared that Iran was not involved in what had happened.

And today we witness Gaza being plundered by Israel, killing women and children, and still no word of Iranian military intervention – no intentions declared to save Tehran’s allies in Hamas or in defense of the Palestinian cause.

All these are facts yet there are still some among us calling for rapprochement with Ahmadinejad’s regime and inviting him to our Arab and regional summits. Our problem is not with Iran per say; it is rather that we are granting Ahmadinejad legitimacy within Iran itself whilst weakening the moderates. We are also giving the Iranian president and those who support him the opportunity to interfere in our affairs, and allowing his supporters to have a legitimate standing in the eyes of the international community making it believe that they are in charge of the region’s affairs.