Postponement in politics is not a solution; rather, postponement allows crises and threats the time they need to fester and swell. Iran’s nuclear project is a major problem and a real crisis, and the nuclear agreement from the very beginning with former US President Barack Obama’s administration was merely a deferral and a postponement of this problem, and not a solution for it. The deal was just a request to Iran to put off its nuclear project for a few years. That lousy agreement overlooked all other problems pertaining to Iran, including its ballistic missile program, booby-trapped drones, and its direct meddling in the affairs of other countries.
The Vienna negotiations between the 5+1 countries with the Iranian regime, over the past seven rounds and the upcoming eighth round, are just an attempt to restore the previous delay and extend this postponement in the future. Postponement was never a viable solution to any regional or international crisis, hence any observer of these negotiations may easily conclude that Iran's arrogance and extremism are matched by indulgence and leniency on the part of the American and European negotiators that could be even regarded as some kind of appeasement.
The countries that are genuinely concerned with the Iranian nuclear and non-nuclear threat are the Arab Gulf states and Israel, due to their geographical proximity to Tehran, and as being directly targeted by the Iranian expansionist strategies. They are aware of the dimensions of this danger and its ideological and political motives all-too-well, and are cognizant of all the details relevant to Iranian expansionism and its main principle (exporting the revolution), and the ways and methods of dealing with the people of the countries infiltrated by Iran, which include Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, where Tehran’s dealings vary between Shiite militias, Sunni political Islam groups, direct subjugation, or cruel suppression.
The recent GCC Summit in Riyadh, and the preparations that preceded it - including the Saudi Crown Prince’s Gulf tour - were all aiming at unifying the ranks in the face of this imminent, clear and present danger, especially as these countries clearly see how the Western delay in dealing with Iran emboldens the Iranian regime. Moreover, it grants Tehran the opportunity to proceed with the nuclear project and manufacture a nuclear weapon. The GCC countries also sense that the exclusion of pressure and tough policy with Iran has sent a clear message to Tehran to go ahead with its strategy and its nuclear and expansionist projects, which is obviously what Iran is doing.
The State of Israel, in turn, faces this Iranian threat politically, militarily, and on the intelligence level, firstly in Syria, and also inside Iran itself. The details of Israeli operations are published and announced, and the Israeli political position that is pressuring the United States and European countries is unequivocal and overt.
A nuclear Iran will change the shape of the world as we have known it for decades - and forever, disrupt all international laws and institutions, unleash an international nuclear race that the world’s great powers will not be able to stop, and it will bring humanity over to a completely different stage in history. This is a realistic view based on facts and information that has nothing to do with optimism or pessimism. Hence, all these delays and leniency policies prevailing in the current dealings with Iran will bring calamities upon humanity, not only on the regional level, but also on a global one.
There are two pressing questions in this context: First, can the Iranian nuclear project be stopped and thwarted? Second, is it possible to confront Iranian expansionism and extension of influence? The answer is simply yes, and it is clear that the Vienna negotiations and the flawed nuclear agreement are not the right way for terminating and defeating the Iranian nuclear project. Iran and its militias only understand the language of force, and the language of force alone. Diplomacy and negotiations with Tehran without the option of force on the negotiation table leads to nothing. John Kerry, Obama's Secretary of State, had previously stated that he cannot negotiate while being forbidden from displaying the option of force on the table.
Confronting the strategy of Iranian expansionism and influence extension is achievable and has different precedents. In Syria, Israel has dealt painful blows to the entire Iranian militia presence throughout the entire Syrian territory, forcing Iran to retreat, and disrupting many of its plans and tactics, albeit Iran does not stop or retreat, but it is, nevertheless, being defeated. Conversely, in Iraq, the Iraqi people and their government were victorious—backed by support from Saudi Arabia and GCC countries—on several fronts, most importantly, in the results of the recent elections which showed how easy it is to thwart Iranian expansionism when ranks unite and efforts become joint. The same thing has happened in Yemen with the Iranian Houthi militia, as the Arab Coalition has dealt crippling blows to these militias, setting them back by years, and crushing the Iranian and Lebanese military advisors who are leading the Houthi militias as a service to the Iranian project. Still, however, Iran does not stop nor retreat.
The mediaeval Imam and thinker al-Shafii wrote a moving wisdom that says: “Nothing rubs your skin better than your fingernail – so you take care of all your affairs.” This is what Saudi Arabia, along with the Gulf states and the Arab countries have been working on for years, so that an effective and influential regional power might be formed to establish sovereignty and stability, foster interests, and protect countries and peoples, irrespective of the agendas of the great powers in the world, especially with respect to fluctuations that the world is witnessing in the Western World - the traditional ally of the Gulf states. Self-power does not allow allies or opponents to make harmful decisions or conclude detrimental agreements that do not take into account the interests of the countries and peoples of the region.
Gulf states have not neglected their distinguished and historical relations with Western countries, and they continue to build on the past and strengthen this alliance, but at the same time, they are not hostage to it. Rather, they are independent states wielding sovereign decisions, and based on it they opened the door wide in terms of communication with all influential forces around the world, including Russia, China, India and others, and although interests are key in politics, they are diverse and manifold, originating from different sources. A saying goes: “What cannot be fully accomplished, should not be abandoned altogether.” Hence, Western allies have started to take part, albeit belatedly, in some files, for reasons and dimensions that are well-known. In the same vein, we are starting to see the recent Western recognition of Iran’s aiding and abetting of the leaders of al-Qaeda and, most importantly, some of ISIS leaders, after Western accusations were racked up against some Arab countries despite all the information and facts indicating beyond any doubt Iran's responsibility in supporting and sponsoring these Sunni terrorist organizations.
Finally, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Arab countries have many sources of power and influence in the world at the three levels, and the economic and developmental successes of these countries have drawn the world’s admiration and praise, and they are laboring with the same diligence and success toward building a deterrent force, regionally and internationally.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.