Against a backdrop of the Gulf states' bitterness regarding U.S. policy in the region, the Saudi and Bahraini presses recently published a number of articles condemning it. In a particularly scathing column published May 17, 2014 in the Bahraini daily Akhbar Al-Khaleej, Bahraini columnist Al-Sayyed Zahra criticized statements made May 14, 2014 by U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in Saudi Arabia following the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) defense ministers' conference. Hagel said that the U.S. and Gulf states "continue to share deep concerns about Iran's destabilizing activities throughout the region" including its sponsoring of terrorism, and called on the Gulf states to unite in the face of regional threats (apparently referring to the need for settling the Saudi-Bahraini-UAE recent conflict with Qatar).
Saying that Hagel's statements were aimed at deceiving the Gulf countries, and adding that these statements were incompatible with the U.S.'s policy towards those countries and are therefore merely a political stratagem aimed at tricking them into ceasing their criticism of American policy, Al-Zahra said that these countries must unite not just against Iran, as per Hagel, but also against the U.S. itself, which he claims is conspiring with Iran at the expense of the GCC states' security.
Following are excerpts from the column:
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at the Gulf Cooperation Council defense ministers' conference in Jeddah (image: english.alarabiya.net, May 20, 2014)
"Two days ago, during U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's meeting with his counterparts from the GCC in Jeddah and his remarks at the [subsequent] press conference, he made some statements that [appeared to be] irreproachable. But to us they nevertheless seemed puzzling, and we have logical reasons to question their veracity and seriousness. We are referring to his call to the GCC countries to unite in the face of Iranian threats, and also his claim that America is 'deeply concerned' by Iran's sponsorship of terrorism in the region and its attempts to destabilize the [GCC] countries. As I said, these statements appear beyond reproach, and can even be seen as positive.
"However, there are several questions that we must ask the American secretary of defense, and the Obama administration in general, and we must wait for the answers to them. The most important of these questions are:
"1. The Secretary of Defense said that Iran sponsors terrorism in the region and is striving to destabilize the GCC countries. This is nothing new or surprising. Iran has been doing this for many years. Throughout these long years, the Arab Gulf countries have suffered greatly from this Iranian terrorism and from [Iran's] support for sectarian groups and forces that wish to spread conflict and chaos. [They have also suffered from] Iran's direct support for terrorist plans in Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the other Gulf states, [which it provides] any way it can. The question here is: If Hagel's statements represent an American assessment of Iran's activity in the region, why has [the U.S.] remained silent on it throughout these long years? Why have we never heard a single American [official], senior or junior, talk about Iran's terrorism and its attempts to destabilize the GCC countries? Has the U.S. suddenly discovered the fact [that it is doing this]? Why is the American secretary of defense suddenly talking like this now, and only now?
"2. In recent years, Bahrain has suffered from Iranian intervention, as well as from Iran's provision of funds and weapons, and open media and political support, to sectarian criminal terrorist forces that use violence and terrorism against Bahrain and its people. If Hagel's statements [represent] American assessments of Iran's actions, then why in recent years – especially since the sectarian coup attempt [in Bahrain] over three years ago and to this day – whenever Iran's role is mentioned, do American officials say that they have no proof that Iran is interfering in Bahrain or supporting sectarian forces [there]? If what Hagel said reflects U.S. knowledge regarding Iran's role in the region, how can this American position be explained? Is the U.S. intentionally covering for Iran's criminal role in Bahrain? Did the U.S. in fact encourage this criminal Iranian role?...
"3. If this is the U.S.'s estimate of Iran and its policy, then why has it left the fate of Iraq in Iran's hands? Why has the U.S. remained utterly silent in light of [the presence of] Iranian militias in Iraq and the sectarian massacres they have committed [there]? Why has it conspired with Iran in recent years to support a loathsome sectarian regime?
"4. If this is indeed the U.S.'s opinion on Iran, then what is the meaning of the public courtship and warm praise recently showered on Iran by Obama himself and his officials? Does this mean that Obama and his administration officials are pleased with Iran's terrorism and Iran's drive to destabilize the GCC countries?
"5. How can the American secretary of defense's assessment regarding Iran and its actions be reconciled with the U.S.'s feverish efforts to sign a comprehensive agreement with Iran? And they did this knowing full well that all assessments, including those by American analysts and politicians, are in agreement that the implementation of this deal will come at the expense of the GCC countries, and that its purpose is to give Iran free rein in the region as well as regional-power status. Does this mean that the U.S. wants to give free rein to Iranian terrorism in the region? Does this mean that the U.S. is completely enabling Iran to continue its attempts to destabilize the GCC countries?
"When we examine these questions, we will fully understand that the American secretary of defense's statements about Iran constitutes a scheme and a grand political deception. The American secretary of defense's statements were based on the assumption that a few words about Iran would be enough to get the GCC countries to stop criticizing the American administration and to stop expressing their reservations regarding its policies and positions. The American secretary of defense, and the American administration itself, believe that [statements like Hagel's] are sufficient, and that the U.S. can continue its deal with Iran at the expense of the GCC countries and their peoples – who will later be blindsided with the new reality.
"The GCC countries understand, or should understand, this American game all too well, and they should act on this understanding. The American secretary of defense has called on the GCC countries to unite against Iran's threats. The truth is that they should also unite against the U.S. and its conspiracy with Iran."
 See, for instance, the editorial "To Washington: Words Alone Are Not Enough," Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), May 15, 2014; Al-Arabiya TV director 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed's "The Tough Options," Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 9, 2014; Jihad Al-Khazen's "Congress Is Oppressing Egypt" and "America And The Destruction Of Iraq," Al-Hayat (London), May 18, 2014; Turki Al-Dakhil's article criticizing the U.S.'s Iran policy in Al-Hayat (London), May 4, 2014; Radwan Al-Sayyed in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 16, 2014; Rajeh Khoury's "From The Ukraine To Syria And Beyond," Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 16, 2014; 'Ubaydli Al-'Ubaydli's "The Destructive American Role In Syria," Al-Ayyam (Bahrain), May 18, 2014; and Muhammad Mubarak Jum'a's "Chuck Hagel's Message To The Gulf States," Akhbar Al-Khaleej (Bahrain), May 17, 2014.
On the Saudi criticism of U.S. policy, see:
MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis no. 1032, Saudis Infuriated, Insulted By U.S. Efforts At Rapprochement With Iran November 1, 2013;
MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5694, Ahead Of Obama Visit To Riyadh, Gulf Press Voices Concern Regarding U.S. Policy In Region, Pessimism Regarding Visit Outcomes March 27, 2014;
MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1084, Following Obama Visit To Saudi Arabia, Cautious Optimism Alongside Continued Criticism April 10, 2014.