Thwarting Iran's Regional Influence
19 July 2015
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Why would we in the Gulf stand against Iran's nuclear deal? We support any
agreement ending all forms of confrontation with Iran and the sanctions
imposed on it. The problem lies in the details. If it was a good deal,
Iranians and Arabs would be happy neighbors. But it is not a good deal.
The Iranian regime is like a monster that was tied to a tree and has finally
been set loose in our region. This means we are on the threshold of a new,
bloody era. Verbal promises from Washington will not be enough, and Iranian
pledges will not reassure us. The countries of the region have only one
choice: to expect a worst-case scenario.
However, every cloud has a silver lining. The withdrawal of the West from the
conflict with Tehran may be a good incentive for us to reexamine the rules of
confrontation. The challenges are substantial: economic, political, security,
and military—all interrelated. Without a vital economy, we will not be able
to improve other fronts. With the huge void caused by the withdrawal of the
West from the conflict with Iran, we need to review our military capabilities
according to the new reality.
Before the agreement, we had three decades of international cooperation on
controlling Iranian ambitions. There was a ban on military deals, and Iran
was besieged and controlled by a large fleet—this is what led the Iranians to
wage war via Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine,
Asa'ib Al-Haq in Iraq, the Houthis in Yemen, and the Syrian and Sudanese
After the agreement, however, we face one of two possibilities: Tehran will
either change its ways, marking a new era of reconciliation, or it will
increase its hostile activities, unencumbered by sanctions and Western
involvement in the regional conflict.
Tehran does not intend to drop its aims of expanding its regional dominance
and destabilizing neighboring countries, taking advantage of the lifting of
sanctions, which will facilitate the transfer of funds and the purchase and
shipment of arms.
Tehran intends to destabilize the region in order to impose itself on
submissive regimes. It is using Hezbollah to control Lebanon. It is behind
the political division in Palestine, using Hamas against the Palestinian
Authority. Iran is also operating a large network of organizations and
militias in Iraq to impose its authority over the country's institutions. It
is behind the Houthi coup in Yemen, where its ally has now occupied most of
Iran is using the Sudanese regime for its own purposes, and is using
opposition groups to spread unrest in Bahrain. Tehran is responsible for the
Syrian regime's unprecedented crimes. The list is long.
Washington believes these activities are temporary as Tehran has been using
them to reach an agreement and force the lifting of sanctions.
However, we in the Gulf believe it is a fixed, long-term policy. Tehran's
dominance will expand and become more dangerous over time, even without
direct conflict with the Gulf states.
The countries of the region face an imposing task when it comes to thwarting
Iran's activities in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere. They should deploy
all possible efforts to push Tehran toward genuine reconciliation, and not
settle for Iran's current maneuvering with the West.
However, managing the conflict will not be successful without improving
economic and bureaucratic performance, and developing military and security
forces that are necessary in light of today's chaos and Tehran's clear
appetite for regional domination.
Al Rashed is the general manager of Al -Arabiya television. He is also the
former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly
magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers
of Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate degree in mass
communications. He has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He
is currently based in Dubai.