Arab paralysis oils Iran's regional domination

Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor
Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor
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For many years, I’ve appealed to the Arab World, in particular, Gulf leaderships, to rescue both Iraq and Yemen from falling into Iranian hands.

Today, like Syria and Lebanon, those once proud Arab heartlands are virtually under the control of Iran’s Supreme Leader. That’s no exaggeration. There’s not only a wealth of factual evidence to back up my conclusions, prominent Iranians have actually admitted as much. And their ambitions don’t stop there.

Earlier this month, Iran’s former intelligence minister and current advisor to the President for Ethnic Affairs and Religious Minorities, Ali Younesi, had this to say in a public forum: “All of the Middle East is Iranian…”

Decades ago, I might have dismissed those words as laughable wishful thinking, but there’s little to laugh at now. Iranian-backed Shiite Houthis have succeeded in taking over most of Yemen, and according to reports, Tehran is not only openly flying-in weapons, the government has pledged a year’s oil to its Yemeni proxy as well as a study on the feasibility of constructing power stations. Yemen now constitutes a direct threat to the security and stability on the borders of Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps - that together with Hezbollah fighters are hand-in-hand with Syria’s Assad regime battling opposition groups - has turned its attention to Iraq.

In a nutshell, Tehran has been given free rein to further its ideological and territorial strategy of placing the entire Middle East under the Islamic Republic’s red, white and green flag

Senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards are in country orchestrating the Iraqi Army that’s partnered-up with Iraqi Shiite militias to liberate the Sunni-majority province of Anbar from ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’ terrorists.

“Faith on a mirage”

One of Iraq’s paramilitary leaders, Hadi Al-Amari, among those fighting to take-back Saddam’s hometown Tikrit, told CNN that he’s proud to declare to the world that “we have Iranian advisers”, adding, “Anyone who puts their faith in the international coalition to liberate Iraq is putting their faith on a mirage.”

Moreover, the Governor of Kirkuk, Dr. Najmaldin Karim, told CBS News, “If Iran is helping with whatever way I don’t see how you can say no to them.”

And don’t for a minute imagine those Iranian ‘advisers’ - or Iranian troops - will pack up and go home once the job is done, as the Iraqi Prime Minister would have us believe. He can’t be trusted.

Read what Ali Younesi has to say on the subject: “At the moment Iraq is not only the bastion of our civilization, it is also our identity, culture and capital and this is true now as in the past…The geography of Iran and Iraq cannot be divided.”

Ali Larijani, Iran’s National Security Advisor, tried to sweeten the pill. He told a Kuwaiti television channel that Younesi message had been misinterpreted, contending that “he had only raised the issue of cultural harmony.” Unfortunately for Larijani, that weak re-jigging of meaning won’t wash.

Here I would quote an extract from one of my own columns published in September last year, headed “While the American cat’s distracted, the Iranian mouse plays”: “The writing is on the wall but isn’t visible to those who find comfort in burying their heads in the sand. I can only hope they will hear the words coming right out of the horse’s mouth, spoken by Alireza Zakani, an Iranian lawmaker and confident of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Great Jihad

In short, he exposed the mullah’s box of tricks during a recent parliamentary speech. “Iran is currently going through a stage during its ‘Great Jihad’ that requires a particular strategy and a cautious approach, he said while boasting that ‘Three Arab capitals are now in Iran’s hands and affiliated to the Iranian Revolution, adding that the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, is well on its way to becoming the fourth.”

I must admit to having been mistaken on one point. America is not distracted, it’s complicit. In early March, the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey actually said Iranian intervention in Iraq might be a positive thing.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have at last woken-up to the threat. A few weeks ago, the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, asked U.S. Secretary-of-State John Kerry for ground forces to take on ISIS in Iraq on the grounds there was a risk that Iran would “take over Iraq.”

Prince Saud’s fears have gone unheeded. President Obama knows there is no appetite among American voters to see their country get involved in any further Middle East wars and he’s in no mood to upset the Iranians, while delicate talks on limiting Iran’s nuclear programs are ongoing.

Basically, the U.S. has reneged on its responsibilities to the country George W. Bush broke in 2003 and has instead farmed-out those responsibilities to its long-time foe, Iran. It’s so outrageous, you couldn’t make it up.

In a nutshell, Tehran has been given free rein to further its ideological and territorial strategy of placing the entire Middle East under the Islamic Republic’s red, white and green flag.

A new Persian Empire is being solidified under our noses. Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon are now little more than Persian vassal states, while Bahrain is still one of Tehran’s prime targets.

Larijani is now in the process of trying to woo Gulf States to accept Iranian Hegemony, beginning with Kuwait. During a recent meeting with the Kuwaiti Emir in Kuwait City, he stressed upon the two nations “enormous cultural and historical ties”. From there, he travelled to Qatar to urge closer parliamentary ties. I can only hope the leaders of these states don’t fall for it. Appeasement is not the right way to go.

Especially vulnerable

Any international legitimacy Iran might receive if the P5+1-Iranian negotiations prove fruitful resulting in the lifting of sanctions and the restoration of full diplomatic relations, will only serve to bolster Iran’s coffers, confidence and geopolitical clout.

And now we learn from John Kerry that the U.S. have given up the ghost when it comes to freeing Syria from the most oppressive and brutal regimes in its history. So much blood spilled; so much suffering, gone to waste. Why? Because, according to Kerry, the Obama administration is ready to reignite peace talks, this time to include Iran’s partner-in-crime, the Syrian president himself.

Sorry, but Arabs shouldn’t be let off the hook in all this. We have the weapons, the air power, the finances, the intelligence apparatus and the men to defend our own lands. We in the Gulf are especially vulnerable. As I’ve warned repeatedly in my columns, the day will surely come when Iraq and Iran will amalgamate into one massive Shiite nation with its eye firmly turned towards GCC States.

Just a few years ago, Iran threatened to close its airspace to any airline using the term ‘Arabian Gulf’ and to close the Straits of Hormuz if it were attacked. If those threats were carried through and also implemented by an Iranian-controlled Syria, Iraq, Yemen, GCC nationals and residents would be held hostage, unable to fly.

What happened to us? We used to have pride; our hearts used to burst with Arab patriotism. Are we waiting for Iranians to occupy our land, too? Will we wait with tied hands until our dignity and the sanctity of our homes are stripped from us?

We cannot go on cowering indefinitely in the face of a burgeoning Greater Iran. We must be honest, instead of being afraid to come out and say who our enemies truly are. We must muster our determination and use all our power to cut the head off the snake.

On March 23, the Arab League Summit is expected to place the idea of a joint Arab military force to conduct missions of emergency intervention, at the top of its agenda. I’ve long been calling for such a force, but there is no time to waste. It will be of little use once the Iranian horse has bolted. This is our opportunity to send a unified message to Qom that the Lion of Arabia has opened its eyes and bares its fangs.

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 the 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.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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