What is killing us, Iran’s barrel-bombs or a nuclear bomb?

We want to build the region on the basis of justice and pluralism. The Iranians want sectarianism and seclusion

Jamal Khashoggi
Jamal Khashoggi
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According to the nuclear deal signed by Tehran and six major world powers last Tuesday, the Iranian nuclear bomb remains a mere hypothesis that might or might not be proved right. However, the Iranian-made barrel-bombs, sent to the sectarian regimes in Iraq and Syria to be dropped on civilians, are real. Getting caught up in theory rather than reality seems to be absolutely hypocritical.

While you read this article, children and women are being killed by these barrel-bombs in Syria and Iraq. This fact does not appear in any clause of Vienna’s agreement, which is supposed to “bring peace to the Middle East and the world.”

Barrel-bombs are weapons of hate, not war, and their specifications and content are not worth scientific investigation. They do not need a certain percentage of “enrichment,” nor do experts disagree on the number of centrifuges allowed. Any dull chemistry student can make them in a lousy workshop if protection and dead conscience are provided, two characteristics specific to Tehran, Baghdad and Damascus.

We want to build the region on the basis of justice and pluralism. The Iranians want sectarianism and seclusion

Jamal Khashoggi

If Saudi Arabia had neglected Yemen, explosives without advanced routers, designed to terrorize civilians, would have been built in Sanaa and Saada too. They are similar to a car bomb left in a side street and intended to go off amid hawkers and school students.

Even though it is a terrorist act, American and European customs still refer to it as a military weapon. We can compare them to car bombs thrown out of helicopters to punish civilians who rebelled against the regime, without differentiating between schools or military headquarters.

It would be very easy for Washington to condemn these bombs of hate if it wanted to. It would have submitted its case to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the U.N. Security Council, then issued a decision incriminating its manufacturers and users. However, it has not done so due to political calculations.

Russians used them excessively in their war against Chechnya in the 1990s, and turned the capital Grozny upside down. This inspired Bashar al-Assad to do the same in Aleppo, Homs, Damascus and Daraa, destroying the most beautiful cities in Syria using Iranian-made bombs. They are used now by Washington’s partner, the sectarian Iraqi army, in their war against civilians instead of targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Any American specialist would know that civilians bear the brunt of such weapons. It appears that the six major powers negotiating with Iran are scared of the virtual threat to Israel, while neglecting the real threat spreading throughout the region.

Regional hegemony

This is why Saudi Arabia, most of the Gulf countries, and victims of barrel-bombs in Syria and Iraq are upset and dread the Vienna agreement. These bombs symbolize Iran’s aggressive regional policy, which is an imminent danger. I am not concerned by the “virtual” nuclear risk. I strongly support the policy of my country, Saudi Arabia, which is the only way to protect me as a citizen and save the Syrian, Yemeni and Iraqi peoples from Iranian encroachment.

Being tolerant toward Iran in exchange for its alleged “concessions” in Vienna is the biggest mistake one can make, even if it is embellished with promises and covenants from U.S. President Barack Obama, who has been continuously making pledges to the Gulf states since the Camp David meeting a few weeks ago.

The Gulf states promised at Camp David to back the deal, with Obama needing their support in his next battle with Congress. The heads of these countries, particularly Saudi Arabia – which is the only power capable of regional stability – should reconsider the performance of the U.S. administration since that summit. Is Washington increasing support for the Syrian opposition? Is it backing Saudi efforts to liberate Yemen from the Iranian coup, as promised?

These unanswered questions indicate that nothing has changed. The region needs actions that speak louder than words. Until then, blindly supporting the nuclear deal harms regional security. We must outmatch Iran’s efforts, negotiate more fiercely and put up more resistance.

Iran’s project contradicts ours, and there is no reason to accept an unrealistic European proposition inconsiderate of the region’s nature and security. We want to build the region on the basis of justice and pluralism. The Iranians want sectarianism and seclusion.

A solid Arab stand led by Riyadh against this deal is necessary to achieve regional peace as long as the virtual risk is given more importance than the real one. This deal leads to endless sectarian war. The Saudi project rejects Iranian hegemony, and will face it with full force. As the late Prince Saud al-Faisal said: “We are not warmongers, but if the drums of war call for it, we are prepared.”

This article was first published in al-Hayat on July 18, 2015.


Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi journalist, columnist, author, and general manager of the upcoming Al Arab News Channel. He previously served as a media aide to Prince Turki al Faisal while he was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States. Khashoggi has written for various daily and weekly Arab newspapers, including Asharq al-Awsat, al-Majalla and al-Hayat, and was editor-in-chief of the Saudi-based al-Watan. He was a foreign correspondent in Afghanistan, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan, and other Middle Eastern countries. He is also a political commentator for Saudi-based and international news channels. Twitter: @JKhashoggi

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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