Iran “interferes…in the affairs of all Gulf states….We face a reckless neighbor…which has territorial ‘aspirations in the Gulf’ and to dominate Iraq.” Yet the Gulf Arabs don’t want to be dragged into a U.S.-Iran war either. Presumably they want the United States and even Israel to solve the problem for them.
Yet from their standpoint, objectively U.S. policy does help Tehran:
“The United States has granted Iran many of its dreams in the region, including the toppling of Saddam [Hussein], active presence of Iran in Iraq and the exporting of the revolution into the Arab world…. The Americans say: ‘We are exporting the revolution to the Arab world.’ If their aim is indeed to export the revolution, they subscribe to the same mentality as Khomeini.”
It is no mistake to think that the policy of the Obama administration is supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, the internal threat to the Gulf Arabs, though that group is also no friend to Iran. “America is now embracing” the Muslim Brotherhood. “When the Iranian public took to the streets, the people were trodden on, crushed, beaten, and thrown into prison, but when the public in the Gulf took action” Iran supported it. But so did the United States.
Thus, Tamim is right to describe U.S. policy as the enemy of the Gulf Arabs. And it is also the enemy of the democratic forces in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey, not even to mention of Israeli interests. The same point will become clear in the not-distant future regarding Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, too.
On the list of security threats, Israel was not even mentioned and this also reflects Gulf Arab thinking. This doesn’t mean they don’t think about the Palestinian issue at all. They know precisely their stance — supporting the Palestinians and their getting a state — but it just isn’t a high priority. But look at how they think about it:
“The rights of the Arab Palestinian people [are] are violated more than the rights of any other people. So how come the United States does not take action, and recognize the right of the Palestinian people to establish a state? The United States has declared its rejection of a state for the Palestinian people.”
Of course, the U.S. government accepted in principle a Palestinian state almost 20 years ago, working hard to bring one about through negotiations in the 1990s and since then. True, the United States rejected a unilateral declaration of independence but to say it has rejected a state is not true. Still, if 20 years of effort and billions of dollars in aid yield no acknowledgment that it ever happened, then how much is it worth?
He also addresses internal affairs and here the Gulf problem comes out clearly: Will these countries be democracies or monarchies? He evinces the current Western debate and catchwords: “Growing gap between the ruler and his subjects….The more we restrict these liberties, the more we can expect the people whose freedoms we restrict to revolt against us.” He speaks of how it is undesirable to have a life-long ruler (then how can there be democracy?); the need to fight corruption, to have equality before the law; more freedom more jobs; less poverty and better social services. Is this all possible without regime change? Is it all possible at all in the next, say, 20 years?
By backing the forces of revolution in the Arab world, by backing the Muslim Brotherhood, and by being too soft on Iran, Gulf Arabs believe that Obama administration policy is endangering them. They are right.