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Iran and the Gulf: Let’s start with facts and then move forward

Faisal Al-Shammeri

Published: Updated:

Contrary to commonly held perceptions, the US withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal has been well received in many capitals. The perspective of the Middle East — particularly the sentiments and interests of Arabian Gulf region, which is situated close to the Khomeinist regime — should always be taken into serious consideration.

The signatories of the deal with Iran live at a great distance from the region, whereas we are in the neighborhood. For decades, the most immediate security threat to the stability of The Middle East has emanated from Tehran.

Region united against Iranian nukes

There is an absolute consensus in the region that under no circumstances should the clerical regime possess or acquire material required for the production of nuclear weapons. Not one country in the Middle East is indifferent to the prospect of the clerical regime building a nuclear arsenal.

One simply has to look at Iran’s current behavior, even if one were to overlook the nearly four decades of its activities since the establishment of the Khomeinist regime, to see that it would only serve to permanently embolden, if not intensify the policy of redesigning The Middle East into a Khomeinist fiefdom.

The stance of the clerical regime and its pursuit of a radical agenda are more destabilizing now to the global order than at any other point since 1979. Two subjects that fall outside the purview of nuclear weapons, but have equal strategic importance are rights of navigation and ballistic missile proliferation.

Maritime threat

The rights of navigation are now threatened in two of the most vital arteries of the global economy, Bab Al Mandeb and Hormuz. These threats emanate from Tehran. It is not simply nations of The GCC who use these channels, but the entire world’s commercial fleets. In Yemen, US-led coalition ships have been targeted that are fighting Iranian proxies and terrorists.

Bab Al Mandeb links the Mediterranean and The Red Sea to The Arabian Ocean/Bay of Bengal/Malacca Straits transit which then stretches to Indonesia, Australia, Asia and The Western Pacific. Hormuz provides a parallel starting point on the same waterway.

The most populated regions, fastest growing economies, and the fastest growing middle class lie on these routes. The policy objectives of the Khomeinist regime do not benefit the peoples who depend on the free and unimpeded trade passing through Bab Al Mandeb and Hormuz.

There can be no nuanced defense of the Iranian crime of supplying missiles to a proxy asset other than the sole intention of it being used against another country.

Faisal Al-Shammeri

Capping Iran’s missiles

Ballistic missile proliferation is another major concern, wherein Tehran has flagrantly and with apparent relish, spectacularly demonstrated that it sits with North Korea as the most profligate provider of ballistic missiles.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was never targeted by ballistic missiles from Yemen prior to Iranian involvement in the country. It is known that missiles used by Houthis (is probably a North Korean variant developed in Iran) were smuggled as disassembled parts into Yemen, where operatives of the IRGC then reassembled and fired them into The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

There can be no nuanced defense against the crime of supplying missiles to a proxy asset other than the sole intention of it being used against another country. It is perhaps here where Khomeinism is most in display.

What interests does Iran have in Yemen? Does it want to turn Yemen into another Lebanon on The Arabian Peninsula? Why is it taking actions that delay the destruction of Al Qaeda? What arrangements the clerical regime has with Al Qaeda throughout the Hadramuth, where it is able to set up a network for smuggling ballistic missiles through a stretch leading to the north? Why does the clerical regime knowingly engage in behavior that endangers the lives of civilians throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in spite of the fact that Riyadh has never done the same to Tehran?

What Iran needs to do

Moving forward, there is only one path ahead. Should Tehran continue with its current behavior in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq and be a rogue proliferator of ballistic missiles, while pursuing nuclear weapons, then only a Soviet Union-Cold War style policy of containment is acceptable.

Any trade or commercial activities by multinational corporations with the clerical regime will only allow it to continue to function in its present manner. For those from outside the Middle East who insist on providing billions of dollars through trade to the clerical regime, only strengthen the IRGC, Quds Force and terrorist operations.

They are literally subsidizing the missiles that target Riyadh, the death squads in Iraq, the butcher in Damascus, and the violation of freedom of the Lebanese people.

The days of casual indifference are over and those who continue to pursue them will not last unless there is an immediate suspension of all nuclear related activities verified by inspection teams, a complete cessation of all ballistic missile proliferation, the removal of all sectarian and proxy assets from Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, the severing of all ties to terrorist groups.

These measures are not aimed at the people of Iran but directed at the clerical regime that rules in an iron-fisted manner over their right to live as free people. For the people and countries of the region, the status quo is no longer tolerable.

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Faisal Al-Shammeri is a political analyst based in Washington DC. He tweets @mr_alshammeri

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