It remains to be seen whether the Biden administration and the other parties negotiating with Iran's mullahs will heed the voices coming from the Arab world -- or continue to allow the mullahs to hoodwink them by having the US sanctions lifted while Tehran continues to advance its plans to obtain nuclear weapons and extend its control to more Arab countries. (Image source: iStock)
Syrian-born TV host Faisal Al-Kasim recently asked his 5.9 million followers on Twitter the following: "Which is better, Israel's reputation or Iran's reputation in the [Middle East] region?" The result of the poll showed that 74.8% viewed Israel as having a better reputation as opposed to 25.2% in favor of Iran.
The next day, Al-Kasim, who hosts a popular debate show on the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera network called The Opposite Direction, conducted another survey on Twitter. This time, he asked his followers: "Do you support the Israeli bombing of Iran and its militias in Syria?"
According to the results of the poll, 77.8% said they supported the Israeli military strikes, while only 22.2% voiced opposition.
Al-Kasim's findings did not come as a surprise to many Arabs, especially those living in the Gulf states, who continue to express deep concern over Iran's ongoing meddling in their internal affairs.
This concern is being expressed as the talks aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), are taking place in Vienna between Iran and world powers that are signatories to the deal.
The Iranians are demanding the complete lifting of sanctions imposed by the US after its unilateral withdrawal from the deal in 2018, as a precondition for reaching a new agreement with the world powers.
Many Arabs, however, are worried about the Europeans' and Biden administration's perceived appeasement of the mullahs in Tehran.
Referring to remarks by US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley, who told CNN that "at some point in the not-so-distant future, we will have to conclude that the JCPOA is no more, and we'd have to negotiate a wholly new different deal," the Saudi newspaper Al-Yaum described the statements as "frustrating messages that reflect the overall American position towards the Iranian escalation."
The newspaper said that the Biden administration's position "raises a question mark about the seriousness of American efforts to save the world from Iranian threats."
"The Iranian regime insists on adopting, supporting and arming terrorist entities in order to continue committing crimes and violations that destabilize the security and stability and the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the region."
According to Iraqi military expert Adnan Salman:
"Iran's interventions in neighboring countries such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Bahrain and Kuwait have become clear and tangible... Iran created many supporters for it in these countries to implement its old policy of exporting the [Islamic] revolution."
Saudi writer and political analyst Abdel Aziz Khamis pointed out that since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran's "expansionist steps" in the region increased. The Iranian intervention, Khamis said, reached its climax when Iran boasted that it occupies four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Beirut, Sana'a and Damascus:
"The Iranians have turned these Arab capitals into bases for its armed militias, providing them with money, weapons and everything they need to assert Iran's hegemony over the region... The Ansar Allah group in Yemen [the Houthis], Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Hezbollah Brigades and Sayed al-Shuhada Brigades and other gangs in Iraq, as well as other brutal gangs in the Syrian and Palestinian territories, have served as tools that allowed Tehran to interfere in the affairs of these countries and threaten others."
Like other Arab commentators, Khamis said that he does not understand the silence and indifference of the international community towards the "aggravating situation of Iranian tampering with the region."
Saleh Al-Qallab, a prominent Jordanian writer and former minister of information, warned that the "Iranian penetration of the Arab region has crossed all borders."
"The situation in this region is not comfortable at all," he said. "What Iran is doing is tantamount to an open war against the Arabs."
Al-Qallab pointed out that the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in Yemen has been launching rocket and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia. He called on the Arabs to rally behind Saudi Arabia as it continues to face threats by Iran's proxy.
Former Kuwaiti Minister of Information and Culture Saad Bin Tefla Al-Ajami said that the world powers that are currently holding negotiations with the Iranians in Vienna do not care about Iran's "hostile policies" towards the Arabs. "Iran is interfering in the region with the aim of dominating it," Al-Ajami remarked.
"Iran is driven by a combination of racist ideology and the absence of an Arab or international deterrent to stop its blatant interference in the [Arab] region. Iran seeks to create a state within a state in the Arab countries. The current Lebanese model of Iran's hegemony through Hezbollah is the model that Iran aspires to and plans for in all the Arab countries."
Al-Ajami expressed disappointment over the failure of the international community to move to "deter the Iranian intrusion." The international community, whose representatives are negotiating with the Iranians in Vienna over Tehran's nuclear program, "is not concerned about [Iran's] aggressive policies against us," he added. "The priorities and interests of the world powers are different from ours, although they are aware of Iran's destabilizing policies for the entire region."
Echoing the Arab countries' growing concern over the current US policy towards Iran, Egyptian writer Emil Amin said that the Biden administration's decision to negotiate with the Iranians was "dangerous and intriguing."
The Biden administration, Amin added, refuses to disclose information about the negotiations that could "pose grave dangers" to the US.
"The Biden administration argues that making this information available may harm American national security and reveal intelligence sources. This excuse is flimsy and weak. Here is the clear truth: the weak Biden administration is striving to reach an agreement [with Iran] at any cost to beautify its image in front of the Americans."
Such warnings on the part of Arabs about Iran's malicious intentions surface each time the world powers and the Iranians resume the nuclear deal talks in Vienna.
These warnings reflect the increasing concern in the Arab world about a deal that would embolden Iran's mullahs and encourage them to continue their "expansionist and hostile" policies against the Arabs. The warnings, which have become commonplace in the Arab media, are mainly directed towards the Biden administration.
It is encouraging, nonetheless, to see the growing support among Arabs for Israel's military strikes against the Iranian-backed militias in Syria. The Arabs seem to understand that Iran's intervention in Syria has caused more violence and bloodshed there.
Likewise, Israel's better reputation compared to Iran among many Arabs, as shown by the survey by the Syrian-born TV personality, is a point of light.
These Arabs, in short, are saying that they view Iran and the United States, and not Israel, as the major threats to their security and stability.
It now remains to be seen whether the Biden administration and the other parties negotiating with the mullahs will heed the voices coming from the Arab world -- or continue to allow the mullahs to hoodwink them by having the US sanctions lifted while Tehran continues to advance its plans to obtain nuclear weapons and extend its control to more Arab countries.
Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.