Was there ever a unified Arab stance towards Iran?

Mashari Althaydi

Published: Updated:

American President Donald Trump’s harsh blow by withdrawing from the “bad” agreement with the Iranian regime shocked many parties across the world and turned heads.

The Europeans had bet on playing on Trump’s character and influencing his decision via some special ways, like when French President Emmanuel Macron courted Trump. German chancellor Angela Merkel tried to pressure Trump, and many others tried to change his mind but he neglected all the Europeans’ statements. He had given them time to pressure the Iranians to “amend” this destructive agreement which Obama and his global networks brag about. The essence of the amendment which Trump had demanded was: ending the ballistic missiles program and halting evil Iranian interferences in the Middle East. The Europeans however did nothing. As to why the Europeans are dying to preserve the Iranian deal then this is something else as today I want to comment on the Arab stance – if it’s right to talk about an Arab stance – in general regarding the major American withdrawal from the Iranian deal.

The story is clear for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Trump’s measure is excellent and they can only support him for reasons that pertain to their views of the nature of the Iranian threat which was neglected by the leaders of the countries that signed the deal in 2015 without the presence of any Arab party.

What about the rest of the Arabs?

Egyptian stance

There is the Egyptian stance as expressed by the foreign ministry’s statement. This part attracted my attention: “Egypt confirms the importance of the participation of the concerned Arab parties in any dialogue about the future of the situation in the region, particularly any dialogue that’s linked to the possibilities of amending the nuclear deal with Iran.”

Great, but does this request include the attendance of, for example, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria?

Qatar which embraces American military bases and which has excellent relations with Iran is in a bad fix especially after the anti-terror quartet’s boycott.

These countries, or to be more accurate the “actual” ruling authorities in these countries, are biased to Iran in varying degrees so how can we talk about one Arab stance in this case?

There is also the Kuwaiti stance, as expressed by the foreign ministry, which falls in the “middle” as it neither strongly supported Trump’s move nor clearly objected to it. After explaining Kuwait’s justifications for supporting the deal in the past, the statement said: “Kuwait respects and understands America’s withdrawal from the deal.”

Qatar which embraces American military bases and which has excellent relations with Iran is in a bad fix especially after the anti-terror quartet’s boycott. Commenting on the American move, the foreign ministry said in a statement: “It’s in all parties’ interest to act with restraint and deal wisely and patiently with the situation and attempt to resolve current disputes via dialogue.”

We do not know what is meant here by wisdom or the “patience” it calls for.

In short, there’s nothing called a unified Arab stance but there are several Arab interests and perhaps contradictory ones. This is how the situation is whether you like it or not.

This article is also available in Arabic.


Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy

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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