February 2, 2018 Special Dispatch No. 7312

Following Waiving Of U.S. Sanctions On Iran, Fading Of Iranian Uprising, Saudi Press Condemns West's Passivity Vis-à-vis Iranian Regime

February 2, 2018
Iran, Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 7312

Recently, after the popular uprising in Iran died down, and following U.S. President Donald Trump's waiving of the nuclear sanctions against Iran, the Saudi press published a number of articles harshly criticizing the Western policy vis-à-vis Iran.[1] The articles expressed disappointment that the Western countries had not lent more significant support to the popular uprising against the Iranian regime. They claimed that the West was taking a deliberately passive stance with respect to this regime, ignoring its destructive role in the region and its oppression of the Iranian people, despite the West's high-flown statements regarding the need to safeguard human rights.[2] They attributed this to the West's economic interests in Iran as a target for investments and a source of profits. One article slammed the Trump administration for waiving the sanctions against Iran, saying that the U.S. President's statements were nothing but "hot air" and that the West's relations with Iran were ultimately based on shared interests and coexistence.

The following are excerpts from the articles:

Al-Riyadh Daily: The World Is Aware Of Iranian Regime's Murderous Character, But Nevertheless Defends It

The January 13, 2018 editorial of the daily Al-Riyadh attacked the West for ignoring the oppression of the Iranian people and Iran's "violations of the nuclear agreement," saying: "The West's handling of the Iranian issue, both its humanitarian and its nuclear aspects, is [based on] the [Western] countries' interests in Iran, [so] they ignore the destructive role played by the Iranian regime, first of all vis-à-vis its own people and also vis-à-vis the countries of the region.

"The Western countries, especially in Europe, believe that Iran is committed to the [nuclear] agreement, although they have expressed concern regarding other matters, such as Iran's development of ballistic missiles, the tension in the region, and the recent protests [in Iran], during which dozens of people were killed by the regime's [security] forces. These concerns were accompanied by justifications [for the Western countries' inaction, namely] that [Iran] remains 'committed' to the nuclear agreement, and that is what matters to these countries. As for the oppression of the Iranian people, that is a different issue, not as important [to them]...

"The [UN] Security Council has noted many Iranian violations of the nuclear agreement, which came to 63 violations, including human rights [infractions] and a steady rise in executions,[3] which mean that the Iranian people's suffering as result of the oppression, the injustice and the arbitrary laws that [the regime] passes and employs against them has reached remarkable levels.

"The world is well aware of the murderous character of the Iranian regime, but despite this, and even though Iran fails to meet many terms of the [nuclear] agreement, some countries defend it. All of Iran's violations of the nuclear agreement should be treated as a single issue, without separating them and addressing each [violation] on its own, because the Iranian regime exploits these loopholes, especially the one [represented by the rift] between the two sides of the Atlantic [i.e., the disparity between the American and European positions on Iran]."[4]

Cartoon in Al-Riyadh daily, titled "E.U. adheres to nuclear deal with Iran" shows "West" lovingly sniffing the flower of "the Iranian nuclear program" (Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 15, 2018)

Senior Columnist: The West Does Not Want A Revolution In Iran, It Wants To Benefit From Its Resources

In his column in the Al-Jazirah daily, senior columnist Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh likewise attacked the European countries for insufficiently supporting the popular uprising in Iran. All these countries want, he wrote, is to exploit Iran's resources. As a result, they do not want to see its regime toppled, and this leaves the Arab states with no choice but to confront the Iranian threat on their own.

He wrote: "I don't think the West, and especially Europe, were sufficiently serious in supporting the recent Iranian intifada. The West has means and ways that are [even] more effective than military intervention, and had it employed [these means], the Ayatollah regime would have been utterly destroyed. The Soviet Union, for example, collapsed and disappeared without military intervention... The question that arises in this context is why the West does not handle this imperialistic religious elite state [i.e., Iran] in the same way and using the same weapons it used to topple the Soviet Union.

"In my assessment, the Europeans do not really mean to eliminate the Ayatollah regime in Iran, and toppling this regime, which belongs in the Dark Ages, does not seem to be one of their goals. They want it to remain, but without its nuclear teeth and claws – for if it possesses nuclear weapons it may become a source of concern for them, just as North Korea is a source of concern for South Korea, Japan and the U.S. However, completely eliminating [the Iranian] regime will deprive them of fertile ground for economic investments and keep them from using [Iran] as a source of profits for the West, especially considering that this country has oil and gas and other economic resources in sufficient quantities to make an arms dealer – the symbol of greed and exploitation in European mentality – drool [with greed]. This, despite the false statements they occasionally make about their concern for human rights. Their interest in human rights is for media [purposes] only...

"The Americans may be a bit different from the Europeans, for they often take an interest in geopolitical and strategic issues, which have less to do with the enticement of economic profit – but they usually head in this direction only when their national and economic security are in tangible danger.

"I therefore say explicitly: We must rely on nobody but ourselves, and we must confront this [Iranian] danger that threatens the eastern borders of the Arab world and oppose it at any cost. We must rely more on ourselves and our own efforts, and invest in everything that can weaken the fragile Iranian [social] fabric, [for this fabric] consists of [different] sects and ethnicities that can be leveraged to [ensure that] the Ayatollah regime is preoccupied with domestic matters, not with foreign ones. We no doubt have the financial and media means and resources to severely harm the Ayatollah regime. Moreover, the recent intifada in Iran proved that [this regime] currently has a strong domestic opposition, which, with financial and media support, could undertake to [topple the regime] or at least keep it busy with domestic matters. History has already shown that the best defense is offence."[5]

Senior Columnist: Trump's Threats To Revoke The Nuclear Agreement Are Nothing But Hot Air

Following Trump's decision to waive the nuclear sanctions on Iran, Khaled Al-Suleiman, a columnist for the daily 'Okaz, attacked the decision and wrote that the international silence on Iran's behavior is meant to serve Western interests. He wrote: "The West seems to coexist with the Ayatollah regime, despite the mutual hostility expressed by both sides since the founding of the Islamic Republic, and despite the discrepancy between the values, principles and goals of this reactionary religious republic and the Western ones!

"The relations between the Iranian regime and the Western governments... continue to be maintained as sensitive relations that must be carefully preserved through prudence and flexibility, for [the West] does not care how far Iran goes in rebelling against the world order, threatening regional security, [cultivating] nuclear ambitions, supporting terrorist organizations and interfering in the affairs of its neighbors! Sometimes I find these paradoxical relations difficult to understand, and have no choice but to resort to conspiracy theories. For nothing can explain how Iran manages to avoid [punishment] for its violations of international law except [the assumption] that it plays a role in promoting Western interests!

"The threats of the U.S. President... to revoke the nuclear agreement have produced [nothing but] political hot air. Nothing has changed, and the noise Trump has made about Iran is just a huge uproar over nothing. But what is noteworthy is how [tightly] Iran is clinging to this agreement, and its warning about disasters that will ensue if it is harmed. [This attitude is especially puzzling considering that], when it was approved, Iranian Leader Khamenei called it a Satanic agreement that infringes on Iran's sovereignty... The truth is that the 'mut'a marriage'[6]... of Iran and the West reminds the countries of the region how important it is to be cautious, and strengthens the Saudi resolve to stand fast against Iran on the regional level, in order to defend its security and interests..."[7]


[1] For reactions in Saudi Arabia to the popular uprising in Iran, see Special Dispatch No. 7261, Gulf Press Expresses Optimism, Delight At Popular Uprising In Iran, January 3, 2018.

[2] Responses by European leaders to the protests in Iran were indeed few and laconic. See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1368, Uprising In Iran 2017-2018 – Update, January 3, 2018.

[3] The reference is apparently to Iranian human rights violations that were discussed by the UN Human Rights Committee. The nuclear agreement with Iran does not include any terms related to human rights.

[4] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), January 13, 2018.

[5] Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), January 14, 2018.

[6] A temporary marriage for purposes of pleasure, allowed in Shi'ite Islam.

[7] 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), January 14, 2018.

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