The gloves are off. Not content with boasting that it controls certain Arab capitals and using militias to destabilise others, the Islamic Republic of Iran has passed the point of no return by directly interfering in Saudi Arabia’s internal affairs.
The Kingdom is a country of laws that must be respected by all regardless of their sectarian affiliations and in a region fraught with danger, Saudi’s zero tolerance for terrorists and those inciting people to violence regardless of whether they are Sunni or Shiite, should be applauded.
Nimr Al Nimr, a Shiite preacher, admitted his crimes and is seen on videos whipping up violence and sedition. He was tried in a court of law and sentenced just as the others who received the same fate were. There was no sectarian bias involved when the other 46 individuals were Sunnis.
Condemnation from Tehran rings hollow when it has been accused by human rights groups of being on a hanging spree. Just last month, a woman was sentenced to death by stoning. Since the so-called moderate President Hassan Rowhani took office over 2,000 prisoners, including Sunnis, have been hanged (700 in the first half of last year alone, according to Amnesty International).
Many are cruelly pulled up by their necks on cranes where their bodies are left dangling for all to see and there are reports that some have taken up to 20 minutes to die. In March, 33 Sunni men were on death row and six were executed for “enmity of God”, a charge Amnesty International says was fabricated.
As the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir revealed in a press conference on Sunday, the Iranian authorities organized shifts of thugs to storm and torch the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in the Iranian city of Mashad ignoring repeated requests from Saudi diplomats for protection.
This flies against all diplomatic norms and proves once again that Iran is a pariah state and an unfit partner within the community of nations. Iran’s lawless character has not changed since the days of the American embassy siege that endured for 444 days during 1979 when authorities stood by as a mob attacked the British embassy in Tehran in 2011.
This blatant infringement of Saudi sovereignty was compounded by rhetoric from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who arrogantly tweeted “Divine revenge will seize Saudi politicians” as though he believes he is God’s mouthpiece. Only Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was honoured with the task of revealing God’s will. Iran’s Foreign Ministry warned the Kingdom would pay a high price for its actions, a threat which cannot go unanswered.
Such vicious statements and behaviours can be construed as an act of war. For sure Khamenei has encouraged Shiite communities in Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain to take to the streets in protest and galvanized his Lebanese puppet Hassan Nasrallah to spout fiery anti-Saudi rhetoric amid chants of “Death to the Al-Saud”. I am sad to say that this incident raises questions, in my opinion, as to where the loyalties of Arab Shiites lie. Is their prime allegiance to the countries which bore them or to the ayatollahs in Qom?
With the future of our countries at stake, I believe we can no longer tolerate Iranian sympathizers, whether residents or visitors, in our midst. We must put out a sign saying “backstabbers not wanted.”
It has long been suspected that Iraq’s leadership is under Tehran’s boot and it is now confirmed. Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi accuses Saudi of “violating human rights” which will have repercussions “on the security, stability and the social fabric of the peoples of the region”. Doesn’t he know that people in glass houses should not throw stones; Iraq post-Saddam leadership has caused the Sunni-Shiite divide while spawning terrorist groups with its unjust treatment of Sunnis.
Any Arab country that fails to quell anti-Saudi demonstrations and attacks on Saudi interests will either be viewed as being in agreement or fearful of Iran’s retribution. Either way, they should be held responsible for their people’s crimes.
I have long warned that Iran is the greatest threat to Gulf States and I was reassured that Saudi Arabia acted firmly and decisively to cut diplomatic relations and all other ties with Iran. Adel Al-Jubeir hinted that others should do the same. I could not agree more. Now is the moment for all GCC states (and Arab allies, in particular Egypt and Jordan) to show their solidarity with a member country when times are rough.
I cannot count how many columns I have written urging the GCC to take strong action in response to Iran’s continuous aggression and I am relieved that message has finally hit home. There should be no backtracking or forgiveness. I believe the enemy is at the door. Our self-defence demands that we must continue along this path by implementing the Joint Arab Force and firming-up the Saudi-led anti-terrorism military coalition involving 34 predominately Muslim states.
Our ultimate goals should include the liberation of Al Ahwaz (Arabistan) from Persian occupation and its Arab majority from repression, poverty and denial of religious freedom. This long-suffering population of millions deprived of water and fuel in a region rich with oil and gas, and criminalized for giving newborns Arab names, are crying out to be saved from the mullahs’ fists.
Furthermore, Iraq and Lebanon should not be abandoned to Iranian proxies who obey Ayatollah Khamenei. Saudi Arabia has donated billions of dollars to strengthen the Lebanese armed forces yet no amount of fighter jets or weapons can be a substitute for courage and love of country. What kind of army allows an armed militia to lead its country by the nose? Put simply, we must do our utmost to cleanse the Arab world from the destructive Persian contagion – and there is no time to waste.
Lastly, I would reiterate my call to the decision-makers within the GCC and beyond to cut diplomatic and trade relations with the region’s biggest sponsor of terrorism and its Arab proxies. Any country spewing threats or trying to teach us how we should deal with terrorists, posing a grave danger to our peoples and our very existence, is an enemy that must be shunned and isolated on every level. Let us have the courage to prove to the Saudi government and people, with more than mere sympathetic words, that they are not alone.
Khalaf Ahmad al-Habtoor is a prominent UAE businessman and public figure. He is Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group - one of the most successful conglomerates in the Gulf. Al Habtoor is renowned for his knowledge and views on international political affairs; his philanthropic activity; his efforts to promote peace; and he has long acted as an unofficial ambassador for his country abroad. Writing extensively on both local and international politics, he publishes regular articles in the media and has released a number of books. Al-Habtoor began his career as an employee of a local UAE construction firm and in 1970 established his own company, Al Habtoor Engineering. The UAE Federation, which united the seven emirates under the one flag for the first time, was founded in 1971 and this inspired him to undertake a series of innovative construction projects – all of which proved highly successful.