I worked very hard to figure out Iranian anger towards the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Abdurrahman Al’atia, in response to the probability of the American Iranian approach, “We will react if Tehran’s situation has changed, and will ask for an Arab role in its speaking arrangements with Washington”, he said.
The six Gulf Council members refused that this approach will happen at the expense of their interest, but Al’atia declared this firm and clear situation
after the eleventh Consultation Summit held recently in Riyadh. Answering a question about how the Gulf states feel towards the situation, “We believe in
dialogue, but we hope it is not (at our expense),” he said. It is natural for the Gulf people to object to any nuclear program that does not follow standards
set by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
This Gulf situation finds its parallel in the declaration from the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Abulgeet, who cites the necessity for Arab
countries to participate in any future arrangements, be it political or security matters, in case the American-Iranian dialogue goes well. He assured that “The Arab countries are ready to cooperate if the Iranian situation has changed.” By
this end, Abulgeet was clear when he described the Iranian act in the Middle East as “annoying.”
So we as citizens of the Gulf, and Arab in general, are not against this American-Iranian approach in exchange to give Iran a regional role and
convincing it with giving up the military side in its nuclear arsenal. Iran is an impressive and important country, especially in the Gulf, but is unfortunately
trying to manipulate the Palestinian issue and other ones so as to be devoted to Iranian interests at the expense of Arabs’.
Iran knows too well that the Arabs are able to defend the Middle East and their interests if they are united, but Iran is working to weaken the Arab position.
It seems that Al’atia’s and Abulgeet’s concerns have crossed over to thoughts within the American administration, as we found American Defense secretary Robert Gates’ message to the Middle East during his visits to Cairo and Riyadh.
“Washington has no intention to hold a secret deal with Tehran at the expense of other Arab countries [or even] Iraq, whereby it would sacrifice the old
relations,” he said.
Gates’ message hit the target right on and somehow evaded the fears of the Arab countries, especially when he declared that any dialogue will develop slowly and will likely not get a positive response from Tehran, according to his perception and long expertise as a previous head of the CIA and also his contribution to legal issues in American national security since the 1960s. In his statements
to Saudi Arabia, “The same dialogue was previously approached but in vain”, he said.
Though he assured America’s allies that there is nothing to worry about of any approach with Iran, and promised that America will be “realistic with Tehran” if it refused America’s approach, there are some disputable issues between Iran and the Gulf countries. As big as any other issue is its possession of nuclear weapon which threatens the Gulf’s safety, notwithstanding the objection of the Gulf people to the idea of launching a military strike against Iran from the U.S or Israel with NATO’s involvement.
The Gulf’s concerns are not new as their experience makes them recall Iran’s regional ambitions to be the biggest country and to be a powerful influence in
the Middle East; For instance, when the Iranian Shah did when he wanted to be the region’s policeman. It is still vivid in our minds. Again, Iran repeats similar actions by declaring sequential threats when facing any problems with the West, such as blocking the Strait of Hormuz and hitting Gulf targets
and U.S. military bases there or ignoring any effect subsequent to such threats on Gulf states.
Unfortunately, when the Gulf countries came to a decision that their stance towards Iran will be based upon mutual respect and interests and will not
intervene in internal affairs that will lead to regional stability and solve any problems or disputes that may threaten it, Iran objects to this peaceful cooperative situation with superiority and arrogance out of the West’s hesitation towards Iranian acts. It sometimes looks like a person who interacts with a child and is afraid of his/her reaction; spoiling the child to avoid
his/her agitation or anger.
This pessimistic explanation or prediction for us, as Gulf citizens and Arabs, of the U.S.’s intention is opening a political dialogue with Iran. It has a
justification, though as American-Iranian relations have noticed changes with the administration of Barack Obama, especially in the absence of warlike
language and not using the military option to face the crisis which tells us of a new political policy based upon dialogue, as the Gulf countries previously
requested. Crisis has taught us not to rely on situations that occur in the big countries or what their officials declare in our capitals.
Based on the above, the Gulf’s concerns are not new even if their marks have accelerated recently. This leads to laying down a strategy to keep pace with
these new facts and to crystallize a Gulf project that is concerned with regional safety that goes beyond varying opinions in the Council. This project must put into consideration the regional privacy and its ambitions, not according to external interests of other parties, which may make the region goes
through a future like that of Iran’s Shah.
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