Our region was the cradle of civilization and the place where the world’s three monotheistic faiths originated. Unfortunately, this region has been the battlefield for endless conflicts. Conflicting ideologies, competing regional aspirations, strategic interests of world powers and the efforts to get their hands on the region’s natural resources by many players are some of the reasons behind this perennial situation of struggle. Despite being relatively small, GCC countries are rich ones and attractive for any ambitious adventurer. Today, our survival as nations is at risk and we need to formulate real alliances to fend off potential aggression.
In a rosy world, every nation wants to live in peace with its neighbours. However, a responsible head of a household must do something to rectify things when rubbish is thrown on their doorstep by a neighbour. A nation is obliged to defend itself against any act of aggression. A rosy world where you can sleep in peace believing that everybody around you is full of goodwill is a fascinating dream. However, in a world of ever-diminishing resources, we can not expect such a world.
Iran’s threatening manoeuvres must be stopped. Let’s quit playing with words of diplomacy. Like it or not, it is a fact that we all must recognise: the probability of the region succumbing to Iran’s military dominance is increasing day by day. To reach this end, Iran has been slowly implementing a carefully devised process. And in this context, the Iranians managed to persuade the GCC leaders that they have no hidden agenda or expansionist policy, but only friendly wishes for their Arab neighbours. However, we cannot rest on the superficiality of such assurances.
On July 26th, Deputy Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mohammadi questioned the legitimacy of GCC states, predicting their demise. “The next crisis predicted to cover mainly the ‘Persian Gulf’ is the crisis of legitimacy of the traditional systems, which considering current circumstances cannot go on living”, said Mohammadi.
Such a can be interpreted at least as an offensive act. It can also be interpreted as threatening. And in any case, it cannot be made by someone who pretends friendship.
Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General Abdurrahman Al Attiyah immediately slammed the official’s .
"GCC states are very disappointed by, and deeply concerned at, such irresponsible remarks and they expect an immediate clarification from Iran of its deputy foreign minister's . Such suspicious comments do not at all help build trust among states of the region. They can only stoke conflicts and drag the region into a cycle of dangerous crises," he said.
I appreciate Mr Al Attiyah’s words. However, vices of our leaders must be loud and affirmative this time to support the Secretary General’ . We are facing a prominent official who made an unprecedented and unjustified evocative attack against our governments and their legitimacy.
The silence maintained by major policy makers in Tehran, regarding the statements of their Deputy Foreign Minister would by all means let us conclude that the offence was approved by their leadership.
Our governments must show now a strict and stand vis-à-vis Iran. Every time they abstain from answering such an offence, Iran’s behaviour will be more aggressive. Who knows where Iran will extend its reach next time, after it has established its strong grip in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza?
Talking to the world with a unified voice will not be sufficient for GCC member states now. They must work to have a definition of their allies’ position regarding all disagreements between Iran and the Arabs, including Iran’s continuing occupation of the UAE’s three islands.
Many GCC member states have worked closely with the US in its War on Terror during the last few years. These states did so to help a so-called ally. However, such a relationship is not supposed to be a one-way street. Is it not the right time for the US to recognise the Arab Gulf and not the ‘Persian Gulf’?
In 1935 the World was asked to say ‘Iran’ instead of ‘Persia’. And in 1979, the country was renamed the ‘Islamic Republic of Iran’. So, why does Iran insists on using the ‘Persian Gulf’ and not the ‘ Gulf’? Does the word ‘Persia’ have an imperial resonance?
In fact, the majority of GCC member states have no problem with the Iranians naming the Gulf in the way everyone wants, in the same way England and France use different names for the body of water separating them. It is the ‘English Channel’ in England and ‘La Manche’ in France. However, Iran has seen in such a thing a fundamental issue and mobilised all its media institutions to support its cause.
Our governments must stop their policy of self-restraint that has been in place for a long time. Instead, we must tell Iran that while we are striving to build a friendly and peaceful relationship with our neighbours on the other bank of the Gulf, we will not accept being pushed to the margins. Yes, on an individual level we might be small countries. But as a block, we are strong and influential. And we have strong allies with whom we have important mutual interests.
Friends might come or go, but neighbours will stay with us. The region’s nations must understand this fact well and work to serve the interests of the region’s people and their shared bonds developed down through history.