Gulf States Are Too Squeamish To Confront Iran's Provocation

Article Summary
Iranian President Ahmedinejad’s controversial visit to the disputed Abu Musa Island has prompted condemnation by GCC states. For Jameel Theyabi, the GCC’s reaction was too weak. He urges GCC states to stop Iran’s violations of UAE sovereignty by adopting a collaborative stance and recalling all of their ambassadors to Iran.

Iran has sought to create turmoil and disrupt stability in the Gulf region. In return, the Gulf countries have rushed to issue condemning statements and discuss Iran’s evil intentions. Iran has demonstrated provocative political conduct when dealing with the Gulf countries, but these countries have turned a blind eye to Tehran's violations. It seems that they routinely ignore these violations in order to maintain stability in the Gulf and to uphold the memory of good relations with the Iranian people rather than the memory of war.

Iran’s tense and belligerent rhetoric has been ongoing ever since Ahmedinejad became president of Iran in 2005. Since then, he has been persistant at provoking people, reviving their anger and inciting sectarianism and factionalism. Religious figures from both sides of the political spectrum have supported his combative approach.

On another note, exchanged statements between the West and Iran indicate that a plan is being prepared in the West. They might be a sign of an upcoming regional war involving Turkey, especially since the current sanctions imposed on Iran have failed to achieve the goal of forcing Iran to retreat from its nuclear program. This prompted French President Nicolas Sarkozy to hold Iran responsible for any military action against it, and to urge Turkish President Abdullah Gul to order the Turkish army to start engaging in military preparations for war with Iran.

Iran is not concerned with the actions of the Gulf countries. For instance, merely 16 days after the April 2012 US-GCC Strategic Cooperation Forum took place in Riyadh and established a missile-defense shield in the Arab Gulf, Iranian President Ahmedinejad visited the UAE island of Abu Musa, which is occupied by his country. This clearly shows that Iran is challenging any agreements reached between the Gulf countries and the US, and is also attempting to draw attention away from the situation in Syria. Ahmadinejad hopes that this will ease international pressure on his ally, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad; he hopes that the Gulf will focus its attention on Abu Musa. Furthermore, the Iranian president is seeking to divert his internal crises to issues overseas by creating a diplomatic conflict.

Ahmadinejad has taken on a condescending tone in communications with the Arab Gulf countries: He believes that all historical documents confirm the authenticity of the name “the Persian Gulf,” and urges those who refer to it with a different name (the Arabian Gulf) to acknowledge the greatness and capability of the country they are addressing. He said that the countries that are trying to confiscate the name of the waterway do not possess Iran’s level of culture and civilization. In this way, the Iranian president is not only seeking to provoke the Gulf countries, but is also inciting them to engage in confrontations and skirmishes in order to divert attention from his country's internal issues with Abu Musa.

Ahmedinejad is the first Iranian president to visit UAE's Abu Musa Island, which, along with the Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb,  has been occupied by Iran since the withdrawal of British forces from the Gulf in 1971. So far, the UAE has reacted calmly, akin to the GCC’s inaction, taking tangible steps to tighten the grip on Iran and prove that the islands are Arab and belong to the UAE. This is what is anticipated from the April 17 meeting in Doha.

I believe that the solution should go beyond withdrawing the UAE Ambassador to Tehran, for this would not be drastic enough to stop Iran’s violation of the island’s sovereignty. I do not know why the Gulf countries are trying to avoid dealing with Iran. Their inaction is illustrated in GCC Secretary General Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani’s recent speech, which expressed only minor condemnation and discontent. Meanwhile, Tehran’s stance was solid and Ahmedinejad affirmed that Iran “will not retreat even one iota from its rights.”

The people of the Gulf are making a mistake by not adopting a stricter stance toward the Iranian violations that target one Gulf country’s sovereignty and allow Iran to intervene in its affairs. They are also mistaken if they believe that the West will fight their battles before seeing to its own interests first, as indicated by the West’s diplomatic attempts to reach a deal with Tehran regarding its nuclear program and oil wealth. This becomes obvious if we read between the lines of a report published recently in the Financial Times, which affirmed that Iran is trying to skirt US and European sanctions by facilitating oil sales.

Found in: west, us, sectarianism, sanctions, regional war, oppression, occupation, iran, gcc, factionalism, ahwaz people, abu musa

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