In the speech he delivered before the heads of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Doha, Iranian President Ahmadinejad said, “We welcome peace and complete security without outside influence.” He also called for “the conclusion of a security agreement” between Iran and the GCC states.
It must be noted here that one of the main reasons behind the establishment of the GCC was to unify the ranks against the exportation of the Iranian revolution following the ascent of the mullahs to power so what has changed today so much that Ahmadinejad may be invited?
The Gulf States, without exception, and the Arab world are still suffering from Iranian intervention in their internal affairs. On an Arab level, Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine may be taken as examples. Had the Iranian president delivered an address to reassure the Gulf States, then we could have said that his visit was fruitful.
But Ahmadinejad spoke about security and the prevention of foreign interference at a time when his state is preparing to host a conference for the oppositional Palestinian factions who are against the Annapolis Summit, which was backed by 40 Arab and Islamic states and worldwide, including the Gulf States and the Palestinian government.
Whilst Ahmadinejad was giving his speech, others speeches were being made around Lebanon referring to the anticipated 'concoction' as was labeled by [Nabih] Berri. However, this ‘concoction’ is incurring delays and obstructions mainly due to pro-Iranian group Hezbollah, of course
Mr. Ahmadinejad discussed security and the three United Arab Emirates (UAE) islands under Iranian occupation. The entire Gulf region would be subjected to a whimsical risk if Iran resumes its nuclear program, or if it is subjected to a military attack. Let us not forget Iraq which has collapsed under the weight of two occupations; the overt American one and the covert Iranian one!
I have tried to fathom the reasons behind the invitation extended by various Gulf officials to Ahmadinejad without reaching any convincing conclusions. One of the aforementioned officials said, “We are not surprised [by the invitation] but we do not understand the reasons behind his attendance. Unfortunately, some of the brethren [states] exaggerate their undeclared positions against Iran, just as they exaggerate their declared positions with it.”
Had the invitation been sent to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, we would have said that it was for the moderate states. Or, had [Syrian] President Bashar al Assad been invited, we would have thought good, it is intended to resolve Arab problems and to reinstate Syria’s Arab glory.
If it had been [Yemeni] President Ali Abdullah Saleh who had been invited, we would have said that he is part of the same trend, and that it would be supporting Yemen in the face of the adversary that seeks to fragment Yemeni unity. What is intended by saying all this is not a rejection of the Iranian people inasmuch as it is an expression of surprise at Ahmadinejad’s reward.
Inviting a figure such as Mohammed Khatami would have been more understandable; he calls for dialogue and co-existence. Or, if the guest had been of Hashemi Rafsanjani’s caliber, we would have said that he is a pragmatic leader with whom political agreement can be reached.
Contrastingly, one cannot say the same about Ahmadinejad; his invitation is the equivalent of a reward within Iran where he is confronted by some who maintain that he is subjecting Tehran to risk.
* Published in the London-based ASHARQ AL-AWSAT on December 4, 2007. Tariq Alhomayed is the Editor-in-Chief.