Gulf Nations Plan Strategy to Counter Iran

In the last few years, Iran has wreaked havoc in its neighbouring Arab countries. Geographically its coastline facing the Arab world stretches from the Strait of Hormuz across the sea from the Sultanate of Oman right up to Kuwait, taking in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Bahrain and eastern Saudi Arabia on the way. It has tried to find ever new ways to browbeat the oil-rich Arab states.

Iran’s Nefarious Actions

For decades it harassed Bahrain and laid claim to it. Iran failed, after which it instigated riots and terror attacks there beginning in the 1970s. Around the same time, it captured three islands belonging to the UAE as soon as that seven-state federation came into being in 1971. It has a history of fomenting trouble in eastern Saudi Arabia and attacks on the holy shrines there, including Makkah.

These and other similar activities have been carried out by it in varying degrees of intensity for many years. It even went as far as Yemen, with which it has neither trade nor any geographical continguity much less any historical association. Iran did that merely in order to create a sectarian divide and put in place its own henchmen. That action ultimately engulfed the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia as well.

Beyond the Gulf Arab countries, its nefarious activities and terror cells extend to Lebanon, Iraq and Syria. The notorious outfit Hezbollah, which has so often threatened Bahrain, represents only one of its many faces. Since mending fences with the West as far as its nuclear programme is concerned, Iran’s overt and covert terrorist activities have only increased, to the chagrin of Arab states. The West’s nuclear deal never aspired to protect Arab interests.

Strategy Needed to Counter Iran’s Destabilization

In a situation like this, it is not surprising that the Gulf Arab countries should put their heads together to find ways to counter and check Tehran’s designs. That is especially since the Iranian constitution specifically calls for the export of the Islamic Revolution ideology.

Dr. Ahmed al Hamli calls to counter Iran.
Dr. Ahmed al Hamli.

One move in this direction was made last week in Bahrain when experts from three countries joined a forum to come up with a strategy for Arab countries to counter the Iranian threat. The Arab Human Rights Federation head Dr Ahmed Al Hamli highlighted Tehran attempts to destabilize the region. The forum was appropriately titled “No Rights Without Security” and aimed to show how Iran was trying to expand its reach.

According to Dr Al Hamli, “We need to know what effect it [Iranian intervention in the Arab world] has on current and future state security and peace in the Arab region, and work out a vision for a national strategy and nationalism. We also need to form a committee of experts to monitor the development and implementation of the strategy, to serve as a springboard for comprehensive Arab action in order to thwart Iran and expose its inhuman practices against its own people and neighbouring peoples.”

This fear and loathing of Iran found expression in the statements of other participants in the forum as well. Thus, the President of the Arab Initiative for Education and Development, Dr Wesam Bassindwoah, was quoted in the Bahrain Press as saying “Iran has also made itself an agent of breaking up the region. In the end, it is as any other terrorist organization, such as Da’esh, if it insists on dismantling and breaking up security and unity in the region.”

The Bottom Line

But the bottom line is that unless the Western countries shed their apathy towards the concerns of the Gulf Arab countries when it comes to Iran, the latter is not going to rein in the executors of its nefarious agenda. While Arab condemnation of Iranian designs is fine, what is required is pressure on Tehran from the likes of the US, the UK, Russia and France, to mend its ways.

Brij Sharma
Brij Sharma is an Indian journalist and editor based in Bahrain. Brij tells us the interesting stories we don't usually hear from the middle east country.