Gulf Cooperation Council countries need to focus on the forms of Iranian threats against Gulf national security and figure out how they are linked to American interests. Are they threats linked to the Iranian nuclear agreement? Or to Iran’s support of its agents in the region? We must specify where the front that Iran launches its war from is, so our attack is focused!
On April 19, American President Donald Trump ordered agencies to review the nuclear agreement with Iran to figure out whether suspending sanctions is in America’s interest. It’s worth mentioning that Trump once wrote on Twitter: “Iran was on its last legs and ready to collapse until the US came along and gave it a life-line in the form of the Iran Deal: $150 billion.”
Also on April 19, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said while in Riyadh that they’ve all seen Iran’s bad behavior and path in Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, adding that this must be dealt with at some point. On April 15, CIA chief Mike Pompeo warned that “rogue states such as Iran face tougher military action from America under Donald Trump.”
Let’s recall US Ambassador to Bahrain William Roebuck’s recent statements on Iran as he better understands our worries in the region. Last Thursday, he voiced fears due to Iran’s support of terrorism and agents that seek to destabilize countries, adding that they were worried of the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan and they still are.
The battle is right here, in Arab countries and it’s against Iran’s agents. Replicating Hezbollah’s model in Iraq and Yemen and the attempts to replicate this model in Bahrain is what we must confront and uprootSawsan Al Shaer
Roebuck said there was a belief that if Iran attains nuclear weapons, confronting its malicious efforts to destabilize other countries and support terrorism will be more difficult.
According to Roebuck, during a conversation between Saudi King Salman and US President Donald Trump, the two men voiced the importance of strictly executing the joint comprehensive action program with Iran and addressing the latter’s activity that destabilizes regional countries.
Roebuck added that President Trump and his team clearly clarified where the US stands in terms of Iran’s behavior that upsets stability across the Middle East. Gulf work is thus important here as this is where our role in bringing American and Gulf points of view closer comes.
Of course, weakening Iran and pressuring it via sanctions can influence its support to its agents in the region. This is our next front but it may take a lot of time to see results especially that Iran has other resources to fund its agents.
These resources are the sums of money collected by Arab Shiites, estimated to be around $95 billion. This money is under Khamenei’s control. Therefore, the question is will economic sanctions effectively diminish the power of agents which pose the worst threats against us in the region?
What’s important is to be very clear and decisive, whether we have the US support of not. We must uproot the terrorism of ISIS, the Houthis and the Popular Mobilization. We must be clearer in terms of the idea that GCC countries will not be lenient towards those who support Iran’s agents regardless of the nature of their work, be it political, media-related or religious. These are the fronts from which Iran fights us and we must direct our efforts towards confronting this.
We must focus on these wings and follow their tracks all the way to the key Iranian agents that prepare them and support them to harm our countries’ stability and security. We will not rest until we eliminate Iran’s agents and deprive them of all their weapons, whether they’re civilian or military weapons, and hold them accountable after they betrayed their vows and sold their homeland.
The Arab battle
We must make it clear that there’s no political wing and a military wing as they’re all the same. Take Hezbollah as an example. It considered itself a political wing and a partner in the Lebanese state but then it used its arms against it. The Houthis and the Popular Mobilization did the same.
Political organizations and licensed dailies that supported Al-Ashtar Brigades in Bahrain did the same. They had misled the public opinion, the international community, international organizations and the former American administration.
All these wings follow the Iranian religious reference. They pretended to be as innocent as lambs and claimed they were mere political parties or dailies or institutions that raise cultural and religious awareness. However, their malicious roles which are affiliated with the Iranian project were exposed. There’s no difference between those who carry arms and those who support men who take up arms.
This is what American officials must comprehend: We do not need to open a front with Iran. Imposing economic sanctions on Iran will not restrain Iran’s agents and their activity. The battle is right here, in our Arab countries and it’s against Iran’s agents. Replicating Hezbollah’s model in Iraq and Yemen and the attempts to replicate this model in Bahrain is what we must confront and uproot.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Sawsan Al Shaer is a Bahraini writer and journalist. She tweets under the handle @sawsanalshaer.