Sunday, July 21, 2024

Iran’s declaration of war must not go unanswered

by Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor

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The pretence has ended. The gloves are off. Iran’s Minister of Defence, Brigadier General Hossein Dehgan, has openly threatened to destroy the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the exception of Mecca and Medina if it “does something ignorant”. Can there be any statement more ignorant or more foolish than this when threatening Saudi equates to placing all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states as well as the entire Arab and Islamic world on alert?

He must be the most intellectually challenged man on the planet to underestimate the military and economic power of the GCC and to imagine that it would stand aside observing that scenario play out. Tehran would be the first city to be obliterated after firing its first missile or dropping its first bomb.

The Ayatollahs and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)are nothing but midgets poking a regional giant armed with some of the most sophisticated weaponry known to mankind. They must be inclined to suicide to warn a strong and stable nation like Saudi Arabia in this vulgar fashion.

You would think Tehran has enough to worry about domestically without stirring an international hornet’s nest. Iranians are suffering from a depressed economy because the country’s wealth is being spent on weapons and Iran’s militant proxies.

Human rights abuses, oppression of minorities, a virulent drug culture constitute a depressive environment that kills human dignity, free expression and hopes for a better life. Iran prefers to embrace terrorists and terrorist organisations in Lebanon and Iraq to further its territorial and ideological ambitions than nurturing its own citizens.

This untenable situation is partly our own fault. We Arabs have been in denial for far too long. We have overlooked Iran’s verbal provocations, dismissing them as mere fiery rhetoric for domestic consumption.

Even as Iran’s tentacles tightened around Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, we permitted the mullahs to believe they are powerful enough to threaten us and get away with it. We should have discontinued all diplomatic relations, trade agreements and bilateral meetings years ago.

The former US President Barack Obama’s administration and its P5+1partners must also accept their share of the blame for negotiating a narrow nuclear deal that was not conditional upon an end to Iran’s regional aggressions.

I was appalled to see Iranian President Hassan Rouhani revelling at European red carpet receptions when Tehran’s Lebanese ‘mini-me’ Hezbollah was engaged in slaughtering Syrians and Iranian weapons were being despatched to Houthi murderers in Yemen.

Conversely, US President Donald Trump warned Iran that “there is a new President in town” while vowing that he would not “sit by” allowing Tehran to pursue its military ambitions. “Iran is playing with fire. They don’t appreciate how “kind” President Obama was to them. Not me!” he once tweeted.

It is gratifying to see that the new US President has prioritized the Kingdom as first stop on his upcoming presidential foreign tour. We will see whether his response to the Iranian warning will match his words.

I feel deeply sorry for the Iranian people. They travelled the world like kings until the 1979 revolution that was hijacked by that devilish Former Supreme Leader of Iran Ruhollah Khomeini with the help of western intelligence agencies. Although there were some disputes, nationals of Gulf States enjoyed close relationships with Iranians for decades during the reign of the Shahs.

Iranians are good people, peaceful people but because they live in fear, they are afraid to speak out against their persecutors. Those who have mustered the courage to stand up against their repressive government have been imprisoned, tortured or hanged. Following the birth of the Green movement in 2009 when hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest rigged elections, more than 10,000 demonstrators were arrested, over 100 were killed.

To quote American journalist Eli Lake writing under the heading “Why Obama Let Iran’s Green Revolution Fail” published by Bloomberg, “Obama ended US programs to document Iranian human rights abuses. He wrote personal letters to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei assuring him the US was not trying to overthrow him. Obama repeatedly stressed his respect for the regime in his statements marking Iran’s annual Nowruz celebration.”

It is my belief that a majority of the Iranian population would welcome Arab and international assistance towards ridding them of an autocratic regime that penetrates every aspect of their lives and abandons millions to abject poverty.

Now that Iran has declared its enmity in no uncertain terms, we must be resolute in taking action. The time for self-delusion is over. I am relieved that Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman understands what is at stake. “We will not wait until the fight is inside Saudi Arabia and we will work so that the battle is on their side, inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia,” he recently said.

I have been warning for many years that the mullahs’ end game is to gain control over Islam’s holiest cities. I believed the intent of those Iranian officials when they said one day the Persian Empire would be reconstituted.

I did not doubt for a moment that Ali Saeedi, Khamenei’s representative to the IRGC, meant what he said when he told commanders that the coming of the 12th Imam cannot occur unless Iran is an instrumental player in effecting major regional changes.

This medieval regime attempts to portray itself as rational before the community of nations when the central core of its ideology is messianic and apocalyptic.

Former Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Giulio Terzi gets it. During a meeting with the Chairman of the National Council of Resistance on Iran’s (NCRI) foreign affairs committee concerning upcoming elections, Terzi agreed that whichever candidate is victorious Iran’s policies will still be “driven by messianic vision of domination in the whole region and beyond.”

I am anxiously waiting for the day when this poisonous regime implodes from within. In the meantime, all strands of the Iranian opposition from Persian dissidents to members of downtrodden minorities such as Ahwazis, Baluchis, Christians, Jews, Baha’is, Zoroastrians and others, should be encouraged, funded and armed to cleanse their lands from primitivism. I pray that Iranians will work to cultivate an open door to the 21st century and preserve our region from a devastating conflict. Together with the help of God we can prevail.

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