Arabs and Iran: aligning with Saudi Arabia is a must

Saleh al-Qallab

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Iran is openly waging a war against Arabs and the Arab ummah. Otherwise, how can one explain its blatant and practical interference in the affairs of Arabs? How to explain its sectarian and confessional triage based on loyalty to the Wali al-Faqih, who is not even a head of state, but merely a “Supreme Leader” whose directions and decisions are considered binding for all Shias across the region and the world?

It has become clear that Iran is after a sectarian and confessional dissection of the Arab world and ummah, after establishing tight control over Iraq and Syria, two formerly pan-Arab nationalist and Ba’athist states. All Arabs present in the states that Iran “occupies” are automatically being subjected to a sectarian-based subjugation to the Wali al-Faqih in Tehran.

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With a good heart, some Arabs had decided to deal with Bashar al-Assad’s regime with an open mind, given Syria’s position as the beating heart of pan-Arabism and the moral duty not to leave it prey to those lurking in the corner and vying for a piece of the cake. And it goes without saying that the same applies to Iraq.

However, this “openness” soon hit the brick wall of reality: Iran’s blatant interference revealed itself and made it clear that the Wali al-Faqih state openly occupies the two great Arab states. In fact, in these two Arab countries and a few others, decisionmaking is effectively in the hands of the Grand Ayatollah, not the men and women of those countries.

This handout photo provided by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) official website via SEPAH News on December 23, 2021, shows the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) taking part in five-days military exercises in three provinces. (AFP)
This handout photo provided by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) official website via SEPAH News on December 23, 2021, shows the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) taking part in five-days military exercises in three provinces. (AFP)

The problem here is, for a great Arab state like Syria or Iraq to merely become another Iranian province means that the nationalist, pan-Arab road toward re-embracing the al-Assad regime has been cut off, despite al-Assad still raising the slogan of “One Arab ummah with an eternal message,” even after everything that happened recently.

But perhaps what’s more hurtful and surprising is the fact that Israel has effectively annexed the Syrian Golan Heights, from the outskirts of Damascus to the shores of Lake Tiberias, while the Bashar al-Assad regime stood watching without lifting a finger. The relative Arab openness toward Syria had pushed the Syrian President to utter some whispered grunts that did not even come close to leaving an effect on Benjamin Netanyahu or those ruling the Zionist state.

As such, when the Wali al-Faqih state keeps silent about the Israeli Occupation’s annexation of the Golan Heights and the Grand Ayatollah turns a blind eye to it; this inevitably means there is some kind of a deal from which both Israel and Khamenei’s Iran are benefiting. That this same Iran previously flooded the region with resounding threats to bomb the Zionist enemy into the waters of the Dead Sea, Lake Tiberias, and the Mediterranean Sea does not matter.

Therefore, it has become certain that Israel and the Wali al-Faqih state have some kind of understanding by which Israel’s silence on the blatant interference of Khamenei’s Iran in the affairs of Arabs and its control of all these Arab states are traded off for Iran’s silence on Israel’s diplomatic and non-diplomatic expansion in the region, which supposedly was and is a vital area for Iran, ever since the Persian Empire and till this very day –some even might go as far as saying till judgment day.

Iran would not have kept silent on Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights had there not been an understanding that Israel, in turn, keeps silent on Iran’s “invasion” of Arab states. This deal crystallized recently, after Iran’s interference in Syria reached unprecedented levels. In the meantime, Bashar al-Assad did not move a finger, nor did any states with nationalist trumpets pronounce a word of objection.

Supposedly, this means the al-Assad regime has definitively left this Middle Eastern equation. With such a deafening silence on Iran’s outright interference in the affairs of Syria and other Arab states, it has become clear that there is an agreement between Iran and Israel. Otherwise, how would Israel keep silent on bordering Lebanon’s Hezbollah having a force of over 90,000 fighters who swear allegiance to the Wali al-Faqih in Tehran?

As such, rethinking the current situation in the Arab world is a must. There must be an effective, serious Arab alignment with Saudi Arabia as it faces all these challenges practically and effectively. There should be an understanding that the heated confrontation in Yemen is practically not with the Houthis but with Iran, which has its eyes set on the Red Sea, the Bab al-Mandab strait, and the Arabian Sea. Therefore, Iran has turned into an occupation state, no different than the Zionist enemy, which is also seeking to establish an active presence in some Arab and African states.

In conclusion, I repeat that Arab states must do their best to rally behind the Kingdom, as the situation in the region is far from reassuring. Iran’s infiltration of the Arab world has exceeded all limits, and what goes around comes around. Only a united front can spare Arab states.

This article was originally published in, and translated from, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.

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