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Monday, November 19, 2007

Saudi opposition to Iran

Special Dispatch-Iran/Saudi Arabia/Persian Gulf
November 20, 2007
No. 1769
Saudi Columnists Call on Gulf States to Form Anti-Iran Front 
Following recent threats against the Gulf countries by leading Iranian officials, several Saudi columnists have criticized the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries' passivity in the face of the danger posed by Iran.
The columnists also called for a joint GCC front against Iran, under which a joint defense plan would be drawn up, a Gulf military industry developed, and a joint military force established. They added that the Gulf countries must close ranks before it is too late. 
We Must Not Remain Silent in the Face of Iran's Threats to Our Sovereignty
In the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, Saudi columnist Abdallah Al-Mutairi wrote that the Gulf countries must not remain silent in the face of Iran's threats, but must instead formulate a joint defense plan:
"Since the beginning of the Iranian nuclear crisis between Iran and the international community as represented by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. Security Council, the E.U., and the U.S., Iran has been making efforts to respond by means of direct and indirect threats to the GCC countries.
"The most recent threat came from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who declared his country's intent to 'fill the security vacuum that will be created in Iraq when the U.S. forces withdraw.'
"[We also learned] about the escalation [in Iran's position] from statements by IRGC naval commander Ali Razmjou to the Fars news agency, to wit: 'If the enemies want to launch a military attack, the IRGC has a force that can turn the Gulf into a hell for them.'
"Likewise, we all remember the editorial by Hossein Shari'atmadari,(1) advisor to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and editor of the Kayhan newspaper, in which he stressed that Bahrain was a region belonging to Iran and that there are documents proving full Iranian sovereignty over the three islands (Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Moussa). We also cannot forget [Shari'atmadari's] comment that among the Gulf states there are illegitimate regimes that are the product of imperialism.
"Further, we cannot forget the statements by Ali Shamkhani, top military advisor to the leader of the Iranian revolution [i.e. Khamenei] and former defense minister, who threatened to wage all-out war against the countries of the region if the U.S. attacked Iranian nuclear facilities.
"We cannot be silent in the face of all these threats and warnings, and in the face of the Iranian threats to the Gulf states' sovereignty and security and of [Iran's] interference in their affairs. We must hasten to come up with serious and unified security measures that the Gulf states can take, and must start preparing a joint defense plan, in order to confront Iran's aspirations in the region, and in order to create a minimal balance of power in the Gulf. Such efforts must be emphasized by conducting large-scale joint [military] maneuvers, with participation limited to the GCC countries.
"It would be unwise to remain silent in light of Iran's irregular behavior, and to try to make excuses for [Iran's statements] by saying it was just a slip, or that these statements were aimed at the U.S. as part of the verbal war between Iran and the U.S.... In the face of the Iranian cudgel that is constantly being brandished at us, we must direct all of the Gulf's cudgels at it, and must not respond [only] via diplomatic means..."(2)
Let Us Act Before the Day Darkens Upon Us
Saudi columnist Yousef Al-Kwaylit wrote in the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh that in the face of Iran's threats to the Gulf countries, the GCC must prepare a strategic plan to include joint military industrial projects and the establishment of a joint military force:
"The GCC countries are taking one step forward and several steps backward on matters connected to security coordination... The circumstances require that we understand, in all seriousness, whether we are in one boat about to sink, or whether we are about to be rescued from what is going to happen on our borders.
"We must be bold in making fateful decisions, taking into account that we are not on the same military level as our neighbor [Iran]. We must reexamine the history of the Iraq-Iran wars, and the deterioration in security taking place today that heralds a dangerous war between the U.S. and Israel vs. Iran, whose ramifications will be destructive for all.
"The meetings of the GCC heads have become a routine occurrence, but the results of these meetings are unconvincing, since their strategic plans give no precedence to launching a military industrial project. Nor are there any attempts to become self-sufficient in supplying ourselves with the spare parts, ammunition, and light and medium weaponry that we need [in order to] form a basis for advanced industry. [We must act in this direction] as long as we have abundant funds, as long as we have minds and manpower, and as long as we have the capability to import experts and technology without restriction.
"The Gulf's location, geography, and strategic importance to the entire world have made it a bargaining chip for countries in the region and outside it. The Gulf's oil resources, revenues, and vital position as a passage between land masses have made it a fragile and dangerous region. The British, who were present in the region in the past, the Americans, who are present there now, and the Soviets, who wish [to gain a foothold there] have all set their own interests [above those of the Gulf states].
"That is why today we are standing on unstable ground, even though we ourselves have no interest in the power struggles that threaten our security. The GCC member countries must talk among themselves, as openly as possible, about the future of their military and political security, and must stand fast in the face of the regional and international forces that are holding them hostage.
"The worrying question is: Why aren't [the Gulf countries] taking any interest in establishing their own joint [military] force, despite the many options for establishing such a force? Have we forgotten how Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait? Have we forgotten the Persian shah's threats to invade Bahrain, and the reiteration of those same threats by a senior Iranian official just a few weeks ago? Have we forgotten the dispute between Iran and the UAE over the [three] islands?
"The matter has still not reached frightening proportions, but we must be cautious... and in light of the warnings, we must understand where our responsibility lies – before the day darkens upon us."(3)
(1) See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis Series No. 379, "Tension in Iran-Bahrain Relations After Kayhan Editor Claims Bahrain Is Inseparable Part of Iran," August 3, 2007,
(2) Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), September 7, 2007. 
(3) Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), November 1, 2007.
Source: MEMRI

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