Why Saudi Crown Prince mentioned 1938 pact during meeting with French President

Mamdouh AlMuhaini
Mamdouh AlMuhaini
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“We will not repeat an agreement that was reached in 1938 and that led later to the Second World War”, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in Paris on Tuesday.

Addressing a press conference alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, Mohammed bin Salman referred to the Munich agreement with the Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler.

The Crown Prince has earlier described the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as “the new Hitler” in a famous interview with the New York Times. On 16 Mar 2018, Al Arabiya Editor-in-Chief Mamdouh al-Muhaini explained why.

His column, reproduced below, answers the questions related to the 1938 agreement.

In his interview with the New York Times, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman described Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as the new Hitler of the Middle East.

In his interview with CBS's 60 Minutes program, the crown prince said that, like Hitler, Iran's Khamenei wants to expand, and create his own project in the Middle East, emphasizing that many people did not know how dangerous Hitler was until the World War happened. He added that, at the same time, Iran will never be equal to Saudi Arabia.

This description briefly reflects the Saudi command’s vision, which he explained in the New York Times interview, of the nature of conflict with Iran and the basic strategy to confront its threats – a strategy that relies on a full confrontation and not containment and concessions.

Hitler’s story with Europe has turned into a lesson in history and politics as it taught us that soft diplomacy is not always the right way to end conflicts, especially with enemies who adopt evil ideology that does not recognize the logic of dialogue and refuse cooperation to achieve an aim, which is completely subjugating others and imposing control.

This is what Hitler almost did as he was about to completely swallow Europe due to the lenient policy of containment. However, historical figures like Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt confronted him as they were brave and wise enough to realize the imminent threat of this Nazi dictator. Thus, they saved Europe from a disaster that it was going to fall into.

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This is why some historians think Churchill was one of the greatest figures of the past century as he’s given up on the policy of dialogue and containment and decided to confront the Nazi threat despite his country’s weak status at the time.

Churchill was the opposite of his predecessor Neville Chamberlain who made concessions to the German dictator to please his ego and safeguard against his evil designs. Chamberlain’s approach, however, only increased Hitler’s brutality.

The Iranian regime does not differ from Nazi Germany or any totalitarian regime with expansive ambitions

Mamdouh AlMuhaini

Political and moral weakness

Chamberlain’s name became a symbol of political and moral weakness while the Munich Agreement, which he signed, became an example of a diplomatic catastrophe. Chamberlain who experienced the tragedies of World War I avoided a world war with Nazi Germany by shamefully submitting to Hitler’s demand to divide Czechoslovakia under the excuse that citizens with German origins were being unjustly treated.

Britain’s prime minister was humiliated twice and he met with Hitler in an attempt to absorb his greed. After signing the ill-fated treaty, he proudly said: “We honorably signed the peace treaty in our era.”

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Chamberlain believed Hitler’s promises that the Sudetenland region, which was the most advanced on the financial and industrial levels in Czechoslovakia, will be the last thing he asks for to avoid war and make peace. He signed the agreement after convincing France of it and left Czech to face its fate alone. In a letter to his sister, Chamberlain wrote: “Despite the brutality I saw in his face (Hitler’s) and felt that if this man makes a promise, he keeps it.”

The agreement was called “Munich’s treason” and turned into a nightmare that haunted him till his death. It was a black mark that tarnished his reputation forever. It also became a tough life lesson.

It is interesting that his decision at the time was popular. People and the media viewed him as a hero who prevented a massive war in his country and Europe. Although he responded to their demands, they later criticized him and described him as naïve. After all, a real leader may sometimes act against the popular will, particularly during critical times, and take tough and upsetting decisions.

Writing history

Churchill later mocked him and wrote: “Poor Neville will come badly out of history. I know because I shall write that history.” It turned out that Hitler manipulated him as his aim of signing the agreement was gain time to prepare his troops as six months later he fully occupied Czechoslovakia and annexed Poland. After that he continued to swallow European countries, one after the other.

The Saudi crown prince recalled an important part of history to put the Iranian threat in its right context. The Iranian regime does not differ from Nazi Germany or any totalitarian regime with expansive ambitions. Containment to it means weakness and gradual surrender and it only increases its greed.

This is what the Obama administration did when it signed the nuclear agreement for the purpose of integrating it with the world order. All the agreement did was worsening its ego and brutality.

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The strategy of the “new Hitler” is close to Hitler’s regime. It is based on the policy of divisions inside Arab and Islamic countries by claiming it defends persecuted segments. It then infiltrates the country and extends its influence. We have seen this in Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq.

It also uses propaganda, as per totalitarian regimes’ traditional approach, to spread lies which followers and sympathizers market to depict a semi-democratic image of a regime that calls for peace and rapprochement when in fact it is an invading power that supports terrorist militias and uses fake religious slogans to market itself. It is also a tyrannical regime that relies on an extremist ideology and adopts the doctrine of recruitment and blind obedience.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s description of Khamenei as “the new Hitler” is a reminder to western countries and Arabs of the failed policy of containment as learnt from Chamberlain’s experience, which many seem to have forgotten when it almost changed the face of the world forever.

This article is also available in Arabic.
Mamdouh AlMuhaini is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel’s digital platforms. He can be followed on Twitter @malmhuain.

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