Ahead of President Joe Biden's visit to the Middle East, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, in a clear message to the US administration and other Western powers, affirmed that any nuclear agreement or future negotiations with Iran must address the Iranians' "destabilizing behavior in the region, their support for terrorist militias, and their missile program." Pictured: Foreign ministers of Gulf states at a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on June 1, 2022. (Photo by Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty Images)
As US President Joe Biden prepares to visit Saudi Arabia and Israel in mid-July, Arabs are sending him a number of messages regarding the need to deal with the threat that Iran's mullahs pose to their security and stability.
The Arabs, especially those living in the Gulf states, continue to express deep concern over the Iranian regime's ongoing efforts to obtain nuclear weapons.
The Arabs also say they are worried about Tehran's intervention in the internal affairs of some Arab countries, as well as its financial and military aid to terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthis, and Iraqi militias.
Some Arabs are repeating their appeal to the Biden administration to stop the policy of appeasement towards the mullahs and to take into consideration the concerns of Washington's long-time Arab allies and friends in the Middle East.
Ahead of Biden's visit, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, in a clear message to the US administration and other Western powers, affirmed that any nuclear agreement or future negotiations with Iran must address the Iranians' "destabilizing behavior in the region, their support for terrorist militias, and their missile program."
The Gulf states also demanded that they be included in any future negotiations with the mullahs concerning the Iranian nuclear issue. The request was included in the final statement issued after a meeting of the Gulf Ministerial Council in the Saudi capital of Riyadh earlier this month.
"The GCC states," the document read, "are committed to establishing relations with Iran in accordance with international laws in a manner that guarantees good neighborliness, respect for the [Gulf] states' sovereignty, non-interference in their internal affairs, peaceful resolution of differences, and avoidance of the use of force or threats."
Dr. Abdulaziz Sager, founder and chairman of the Gulf Research Center, a global think tank based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, warned that leaving Iran without effective and binding measures to stop its nuclear program will lead to a "surprise": that one day the Gulf states and the international community will wake up to the impact of Iran's possession of a nuclear bomb. Sager wrote:
"We, as the Gulf states, must refuse to deal with Iran as a nuclear power, and focus on the need to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons first and foremost, and time is still available to take preventive measures, not measures to address a situation based on accepting the emergence of Iran as a nuclear power. Western countries prefer to talk about upcoming measures, preparing us for their failure to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions, but the truth is that we are in a race against time, and it is still possible to force Iran to abandon its secret plans to acquire nuclear weapons. The problem is that the entire international community does not seem serious and resolute in dealing with this issue and deterring Iran."
Sager pointed out that Iran thinks with the "mentality of an empire" and that is why it is continuing its efforts to extend its control to several Arab countries.
"If we look at the map of Iranian geographical expansion in the Arab world, we will find that there is a philosophy behind this expansion, which is the establishment of Iranian influence from the Mediterranean Sea to the Arabian Gulf, an attempt to impose a siege on the Gulf states from North and South Arabia [Yemen and Iraq], and an attempt to control the sea straits that control maritime navigation in the region [the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandab Strait]."
Saudi author Ibrahim Ali Naseeb said that he, too, was worried about Iran's expansionist schemes and ambitions in the Arab world, as well as the naivety of the international community. "With just one look at the actions and behaviors practiced by Iran, one feels anxious and nauseated," Naseen wrote.
"The truth is that I have written a lot about the evil actions of Iran in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and everyplace where Iran killed people through starvation, war, and fatigue. Iran's blatant violation of international law has become a daily provocation, but the world lives with Iran, which believes that it is capable of harming whomever it wants without repercussions. The actions of Iran are evil; the Iranians scatter evil in all directions, sowing death, murder and destruction... Iran will only be a thorn in the eyes of the world."
Naseeb went on to say that the fault was not that of Iran's mullahs so much as the world that still believes them and gives them more time with the nuclear agreement.
Khaled Al-Yemany, the former foreign minister of Yemen, noted that Washington's Arab allies have repeatedly warned that the US against complacency with the Iranian threat, "specifically after the instructions of the administration of former President Barack Obama to build a partnership with the Tehran regime under the roof of the nuclear agreement that contributed to Iran's pervasiveness, and gave it free rein, allowing it to increase its hostile activities against the countries of the region without being held accountable for the consequences of its reckless policies."
Al-Yemany pointed out that the Arab countries have always preferred dialogue with Iran, but this was seen by the mullahs as a sign of weakness.
Referring to Biden's upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia, Al-Yemany said that the issue of restoring the strategic partnership between the countries of the region and America is of paramount importance, especially in light of the White House's statements about the leadership role that Saudi Arabia plays, its great efforts to bring peace to Yemen, and its prominent position in the global economy.
"Today, after the nuclear agreement with Iran has reached a near-clinical death, Washington must listen to the concerns of its allies in the region, and jointly search for a different approach to dealing with the destabilizing Iranian threats to regional security and stability... Recent developments have demonstrated the weakness and fragility of the Iranian regime from within. Over the past years, Iran has used its agents in the region to target Israeli interests, and there is a long list of attempts by Iranian intelligence and its proxies in Hezbollah to target the Israelis in Azerbaijan, Thailand, India, Argentina, Bulgaria, and finally in Turkey."
According to Al-Yemany, when Biden arrives in the region, he will have to draw up a joint strategy with his Arab allies to deal with all the threats posed by Iran in a way that ensures a non-nuclear Iran that does not pose any harm to its neighbors.
"America and its allies in the West are becoming increasingly convinced of what their allies in the region have been saying -- that betting on the rationality of the Iranian regime's behavior is out of the question, and that Tehran is using negotiation diplomacy to achieve more military gains and develop its arsenal in the nuclear and missile fields and missile technology... The reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency confirm that Iran is far from the commitments it made in the nuclear agreement, and it is progressing to build a nuclear bomb. A nuclear Iran, its expansionist project that destabilizes regional and international security and stability will be more ferocious and its ambitions will transcend all borders, and it must be deterred before it is too late."
Prominent Saudi writer and newspaper editor Tareq Al-Hamid, warned that Iran was continuing its expansion in the region "without a moment of political rationality."
"In fact, Tehran has continued, since 2003, to escalate and play the policy of brinkmanship without fear of any repercussions. [Slain Commander of the Quds Force, a division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] Qassem Soleimani, for example, before his assassination, acted as if he was the leader of the region, not a militia leader."
Al-Hamid also noted that Iran has not committed itself to any agreement in the past, thereby bringing it closer to a military confrontation with Israel.
"It is natural for us to reach the expected moment of confrontation, which was caused by Iran itself... Our region previously told the Obama administration that there is no solution except by cutting off the head of the snake, not in defense of Israel, but because of Iran's destruction of our Arab countries and its continued targeting of our security. We are closer than ever to an Israeli-Iranian military confrontation. What is required now is to anticipate the consequences, because Iran, as usual, does not respond to Israel directly. And whenever Israel targets Iran anywhere, Tehran responds in Iraq, or by igniting Gaza and Lebanon, or targeting the Gulf, and therefore this requires preparation and vigilance."
Sawsan Al-Sha'er, one of Bahrain's most influential journalists, said that the only way to deal with Iran was by demanding that the mullahs abandon their expansionist project completely, their terrorist militias and their ballistic missile program.
"Iranian procrastination has become a threat to international security, especially if its regime gets a nuclear bomb," Al-Sha'er warned.
"If the Iranian regime thought a little, it would have found that its biggest ally in the region could be the Gulf states. The two sides have much in common and can form an alliance that achieves security for all, without the need for Iran's expansionist ideology that dominates Iranian leaders. Unfortunately, the Iranian regime is unwilling to do so."
The Iranian regime, she wrote, spent billions of dollars on expansion, control and domination, even if that was at the expense of the welfare of its people.
"Doesn't this regime see that it has spent a lot on its dreams for half a century without any benefit to the Iranians?... The Iranian regime is expanding and penetrating four Arab capitals. What is the benefit to it or to the Iranian people? The Iranian people revolt time and time again, poverty is increasing, and international sanctions are stifling them. What did Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen or Syria offer the Iranian people? The Iranian people are now shouting that they do not want to die for any of these four countries, yet the regime clings to its illusions. The Iranian regime keeps telling its people to be patient. Half a century has passed, and the people are eating garbage."
Referring to the recent anti-regime protests in Iran, Syrian author Abdul Jalil Al-Saeid said that the Iranians' hunger will not be satisfied by the mullahs' investment in missiles that threaten the security of the region.
Al-Saeid pointed out that the Arab and Western media has remained silent about the Iranian people's protests against the corruption of the regime, which spent its wealth to destroy four Arab countries (Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq).
"The protests in Iran are not a conspiracy [by enemies of Iran]," he emphasized. "The people are raising their voice to say that they are suffering. But the regime does not take into account the interests of its own people."
The message that Arabs are sending to Biden before he heads to the Middle East is that the US must focus its efforts on thwarting Iran's project to expand its control over the Arab world.
The Arabs are saying that they expect the Biden administration to reverse its stance on Iran and act in accordance with reality: that Tehran poses a catastrophic threat to America's allies -- all of its allies, Arab and Israeli alike -- in the Middle East.
Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.