Last Updated: Tue Apr 17, 2012 14:48 pm (KSA) 11:48 am (GMT)

Ahmadinejad is in Abu Musa, while we…..

Tariq Alhomayed

For more than seven years we have warned of the danger of Iranian infiltration in the region, and Tehran penetrating our states, repeating that Iran is not a “friendly” state, but rather an occupier of Arab lands. Many became jaded with these warnings, even believing they were an exaggeration, but today, after the Iranian President’s visit to the occupied Emirati island of Abu Musa, such people have started to panic and have finally become aware of the danger of Iran!

However, is fear alone enough, particularly at the political level? The answer is no. Iran is active in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Bahrain, and today it is supporting the tyrant of Damascus Bashar al-Assad, whose troops have so far killed more than 10,000 Syrians. In addition to all this, here is President Ahmadinejad daring to visit the occupied Emirati island of Abu Musa, as the first Iranian president to do so since Iran occupied the islands. The timing of this visit has clear and blatant implications, as it comes before the start of negotiations with the international community in Turkey, surrounding the Iranian nuclear file.

The timing also coincides with U.N-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan’s visit to Iran. This means that Ahmadinejad is effectively saying that Iran will negotiate using our region as play cards, rather than what Tehran can offer the international community with regards to the nuclear issue, i.e. Iran’s trump cards will be its interference in our region! Iran does all that, and Ahmadinejad dares to visit the occupied Emirati island of Abu Musa, but what about us, the Arabs? Where are we in relation to all that is going on?

The true and honest answer, which of course is our duty to point out, is that we, as Arabs, are content with meeting room discussions and issuing statements, printing newspaper pages and airing news broadcasts, whilst on the ground there is no effective mobility. All we are doing is a series of half steps. The Gulf initiative succeeded in Yemen, but the subsequent Iranian mobilization on the ground there was very fast and did not encounter any opposition.

We sent the Peninsula Shield forces to Bahrain, but the Iranian hand continues to interfere there, and it is suffice here to consider the frenetic campaign against the Bahrain Grand Prix. Nuri al-Maliki cranes his neck into our affairs, and violates the sanctity of Syrian blood, and the only punishment we give in return is to receive Tariq al-Hashemi! President Ahmadinejad visits Abu Musa and we confine ourselves to statements of condemnation. Meanwhile Tehran openly supports al-Assad with men and arms, whilst we are confused as to who is leading the efforts in Syria, and who will provide the first step. We have not seen a genuine Gulf effort towards China and Russia, while Walid Moallem has flown to Moscow and Beijing.

Today we should call for a new Gulf-Arab effort to save the Syrian people and restrict the Iranian hand there. We must use all our trump cards, of which there are many, to launch a Gulf-Arab diplomatic effort, with the participation of Turkey of course; an effort similar to the phase prior to the liberation of Kuwait. There are two main objectives: The first diplomatic, the other to support the Syrian rebels and the Free Syrian Army. Al-Assad continues to bomb cities and kill Syrians, and he is exploiting Annan’s ceasefire to arrest the greatest amount possible of peaceful Syrian activists. Meanwhile, we await the outcomes of Annan’s efforts, which are doomed to the same fate as his efforts in Rwanda!

Thus, the question is: If we don’t mobilize when Ahmadinejad visits the occupied Emirati island of Abu Musa, then when will we mobilize?

The writer is the Editor-in-Chief of Asharq al-Awsat. This article was published in Arab News on Apr. 17, 2012

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