We have to admit that Iran is a cunning, intelligent and, perhaps, evil political player. Over the past 13 years — that’s how long the negotiations between the West and Tehran regarding its nuclear programme have been going on — Iran has been able to negotiate, manoeuvre and confuse America and the EU in order to achieve what it wants. Some may deny this and wonder how I could say that Iran has achieved its goals while the agreement stipulates strict international monitoring of its programme, an end to nuclear enrichment and refraining from developing scientific research for the next 12 years, thus preventing Iran from creating the nuclear bomb it had hoped for.
Others say that Iran made many concessions and that the West stands to benefit most from this, but my response is that Iran has, in effect, received international recognition of its right to join the nuclear club amongst the global superpowers. Iran has thus become a member of the club in a position of strength as a nuclear state. In his recent interview with Zionist journalist Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, President Barack Obama spoke with great admiration about Iran, saying that it is a regional force that cannot be underestimated and that we must all work together to combat terrorism. This is exactly what Iran wanted to hear; it aspires to go back to the way it was during the rule of the Shah, when it was the West’s regional policeman. This is how Iran obtained its position in the new map of the Middle East as a major force in the region.
The question has to be, where are the Arabs on this new map and in these new balances and entities currently being formed? First, though, we should ask where the Arabs were 13 years ago; what have they been doing all this time? The answer is that they were fast asleep in America’s lap, even though the popular (and accurate) saying goes, “Those covered with the Americans are exposed.” However, during the honeymoon period, this seems to be the norm.
Thirteen years ago, the Arabs conspired with the US against Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein, their arch-enemy, whom they and Iran feared. Because Arabs tend not to look further than their feet, they opened their air and naval space and allowed the Americans to desecrate their land in order to invade their Arab and Muslim neighbour and occupy it. Iran was preparing for this moment and this dramatic scene in order to push its men to take command and dominate the political scene in Iraq, making it a quasi-Iranian reserve. This even led to one of Iran’s politicians to say that Baghdad had become the capital of Iran, while another said that they had taken control of four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus and Sana’a.
Sana’a is the new wound opened by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who contributed to putting it in the hands of the Houthis. They are the ones who funded the treacherous coup with billions of dollars in order to spite the Muslim Brotherhood, which was elected to the Yemeni government, as it was in Egypt. The Saudis and Emiratis reproduced the Egyptian model in Yemen, putting it in the grip of the Houthis, and thus in the grip of Iran. Now that Saudi Arabia is surrounded by Iran on all of its borders, it has finally woken from its deep slumber in the American lap and finally sensed the danger to the country and the throne.
The same fears that Riyadh had felt previously about the oppressed Muslim Brotherhood are now felt regarding Iran, so Saudi Arabia decided to fight Iran on Yemeni land in order to prevent and contain its expansion, but what comes next? Four Arab capitals have fallen under Iran’s control, while the Arabs plotted and conspired against their Arab and Muslim brothers to overthrow them one after the other.
I hope that the Arab leaders learn from the bitter experiences witnessed by the Arab people in the past few years, admit their mistakes and try to right their wrongs. I also hope that they learn the policy of patience and foresight which Iran employs so effectively when dealing with its enemies, not its brothers and allies. However, this is very doubtful; the Arab leaders show no sign of possessing either the skill or the desire to do so.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.