Friday, March 27, 2015

Gulf states, abandoned against Iran - Dr. Reuven Berko



by Dr. Reuven Berko

Arab stagnation combined with the West turning a blind eye to this Iranian aggression, alongside the willingness of Western powers to sign a deal allowing Iran to acquire a nuclear bomb, is causing sleepless nights among those Arab leaders who are again pushing the need to upgrade the capabilities of the "Al Jazeera defense force."

Shiite Iran's increasing involvement in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, while exploiting the Shiite elements of the population in those target countries, is causing a great deal of concern among leaders of Arab Gulf states. The trauma of Iran's attempt to topple the regime in Bahrain, where most of the population is Shiite, under the claim that Bahrain is Iran's 14th province, is still fresh in their minds. The Iranian goal of using Bahrain as a bridgehead from which to spread across the Arabian Peninsula is still in play, despite Iran's first effort being blocked in March 2011, when some 1,000 Saudi troops and 500 policemen from the United Arab Emirates entered Bahrain to save its regime.

Ever since Saddam Hussein's sudden invasion of Kuwait, the Gulf states -- Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE -- realized the need for a type of "Al Jazeera defense force" to pose a strategic deterrent against Iranian machinations on the peninsula. Their effort has not been a success. Through its latest intervention, via the mobilization of Shiite Houthi tribesmen to capture key targets in Yemen, including the primary port cities and airports in the south of the country leading to control of the Gulf of Aden, Iran is clearly reiterating its ambition of acquiring the straits of Hormuz and Bab el-Mandeb, which will allow Iran to paralyze the Red Sea and Persian Gulf waterways.

Arab stagnation combined with the West turning a blind eye to this Iranian aggression, alongside the willingness of Western powers to sign a deal allowing Iran to acquire a nuclear bomb, is causing sleepless nights among those Arab leaders who are again pushing the need to upgrade the capabilities of the "Al Jazeera defense force."

Considering the lack of trust in the West and Yemen's expected fall to the Houthis, the leaders of the Arab Gulf states are again working, feverishly, to build the military capability to curb Iran. As early as December 2009, with the goal of protecting the integrity of Arab territories situated in the Arabian Peninsula, the Arab League decided to establish a massive, unified, heavily funded, rapid-reaction military force comprising hundreds of thousands of troops and naval capabilities, capable of posing a deterrent and striking a decisive blow on the battlefield. Morocco and Jordan were also added to this coalition, as strategic depth, but the initiative ultimately failed to gain traction. 

The recent gathering of these partner states in Riyadh gave birth to a multitude of agreements, including support and aid to Egypt, which is considered the strongest true military force in the Sunni Arab Middle East. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has lobbied for Pakistani support in the aftermath of Yemen's inevitable fall, or worse, when Iran completes its nuclearization with American consent. 

As the West falls victim to the fraud peddled by Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, the Arabs (and Israel) have no illusions about Iran's true intentions. Even as the Bahrain crisis was unfolding, the threats issued by many of Iran's highest-ranking defense establishment officials -- whether in the regime, the military or the Shura (parliament) -- reflected the hostile nature of Iran's foreign policy, and removed any doubt in the minds of neighboring Arab leaders.

Many of the Gulf states with signed security and defense pacts with the West, namely the United States, are currently feeling abandoned. Ever since the events in Bahrain, and to a greater degree following the recent developments in Yemen, the realization is growing in the Gulf that Iran's aggressive goals and ambitions regarding the Arabian Peninsula have not changed and that they must take care of themselves.

The Arabs have recently come to the realization that not only will they not receive aid from the West in their hour of need, but that the West is forging a deal with Iran at their expense -- a deal that will pose the greatest threat to their security. The situation that has been created provides an opportunity for Israel, even if clandestinely, to play a part in the geostrategic plans being formulated by states in the region, and which could help lead to an agreeable deal on the Palestinian issue -- which is rather secondary in the current pan-Arab context.

The West's weakness and apathy toward Iran and the perilous predicament it has created in Yemen again prove the flimsy nature of those security and defense treaties. This lesson justifies Israel's approach, which is based on the ability to defend itself on its own. In the meantime, following the Houthi takeover, Saudi Arabia has decided to deploy a massive military force along the border with Yemen. The first shot is in the chamber and the finger is already on the trigger.


Dr. Reuven Berko

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=12097

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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