Tehran: the Washington-pampered enemy [Archives:2007/1042/Opinion]

April 16 2007

Nassr Taha Mustafa
When Iran declares its determination to continue its nuclear program for peaceful purposes in the face of the west, we always find that Muslims everywhere strongly back Iran away from any political or sectarian considerations. Surely, this is what embodies the sentimental and ideological unity between Muslims. But the picture becomes totally different when Muslims worldwide feel that Iran may give precedence to its ethnic sentiment in an issue of a sectarian dimension over its political affiliation. Such a fact makes Muslims feel disappointed about building a nation with unified attitudes. So, a large and important country like Iran commits a huge mistake in such a case since its future relies on the support of Muslims, specifically its Arab neighbors whose interests, future, and stability necessitate strong ties with Iran. Similarly, this applies for Iran that is in need of closer ties with Arabs.

Meanwhile, we perceive that there is a long history of disagreements but feel the need for peaceful coexistence between people belonging to different sects most of the time. If the case was similar throughout the different stages of history as the nations were doing well, the situation should be better in our current age, which experiences split and fragmentation of Arabs. Our situations are gradually deteriorating except for a wink of hope maintaining the Islamic entities via historic leaders, major events, or immense changes. All of us remember how the Arabs, without an exception, sympathize with the Iranian Revolution and its leader, the late Imam Al-Khamiani. The Arabs upheld the revolution without any restriction or condition, but such backing declined over the elapse of time after Iran's declaration of its sectarian identity, its war with Iraq, and the war consequences that led to expand the scope of unprecedented sectarian and ethnical discriminations between Muslims. The Arabs then entered a new phase, which is the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and its bad consequences culminating in the fall of Baghdad at the hands of the U.S. forces in the year of 2003 which marked the beginning of the real golden age for Iran in the whole region.

Over time, Iran and the U.S. are jointly engaged in the affairs of Iraq's governance in an implicit way. Tehran has become an integral player, if not really the primary player and the strong decision-maker in the Iraq Cause. If Iran hadn't played a great role in Iraq, it would have been subjected to a deadly military strike by the U.S. and some of its allies under the pretext of targeting its nuclear reactor. Instead of this, Iran has become a pampered enemy for Washington to launch against it the war of words. This makes one believe that the fall of the Islamic republic and its regime is inevitable, but later on, he/she will perceive that the issue is something worse than the fall of Iran.

In the light of these developments and changes, the extending between the international moves to approve economic sanctions on Iran over its nuclear project and the regional-Iranian role, which is expanding in the region and accused of sparking sectarian conflicts in search for political influence in the region. Also, in the light of these developments, those interested in the topic can read the Iranian Leader's visit to Sudan and Saudi Arabia.

Irrespective of its being the Iranian president's first official visit to both Arab countries, it coincided with difficult and complicated international and regional conditions. The Iranian government realized that continuing the sectarian conflicts against it in the region is bound to separate it from the world, particularly if the international community approves the economic sanctions against it. For Tehran, Sudan is a bridge for it to cross to the Suni Islamic movements in the region, taking into consideration the roots of the Islamic movements for the Sudanese regime, which still maintains strong ties with these movements, particularly those engaged in the political action without violence.

Certainly, Tehran understands well the role of the Arab Islamic movements in drawing a positive or a negative picture of the Iranian regime in the Arab street. But the Islamic Republic needs the positive picture after it was shaken in various occasions.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is pondered upon as a bridge for Tehran toward the mutual understanding with the Arab regimes and reducing the Arabs' official worry about Iran's new policies in the region. Although, Saudi Arabia back Iran's right to have nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, there is a natural worry that Tehran may use its nuclear programs in favor of projects that may not serve stability and coexistence in the region. Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President, cared for gratifying the Saudi King before holding the Arab Summit in Riyadh, which focused on examining Iran's intents, caring for the political togetherness, reducing sectarian congestion, and supporting Saudi efforts to resolve conflicts between the Lebanese factions.

If Ahmadinejad's visit to Sudan and Saudi Arabia was successful, this means that Iran has taken a serious step to be closer to its Arab neighbors and cleared all the sectarian and ethnical mines, the bad influence of which may not be limited to the Arab region, but is expected to reach Iran.

Nasr Taha Mustafa is the President of Yemeni Journalists Syndicate

Source: Al-Syasiah newspaper