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March 9, 2010 Special Dispatch No. 2849

Editor of Saudi Daily: Iran Must Pay the Price for Rejecting Saudi Arabia's Overtures of Friendship

March 9, 2010
Saudi Arabia, Iran | Special Dispatch No. 2849

Against the backdrop of the frenzied diplomatic activity over Iran's nuclear dossier and the possibility of additional Security Council sanctions against Iran, the editor of the Saudi daily Al-Watan, Jamal Khashoggi, wrote an article lambasting the "evil" Iranian regime, and stating that its intense hostility towards Saudi Arabia was preventing any understanding between the two countries. He added that Iran must pay the price for rejecting Saudi Arabia's overtures of friendship, implying that the Saudis should support the imposing of sanctions on Iran.

Following are excerpts from his article:[1]

"Can We Trust Iran?"

"Those who believe in [drastic measures] have suggested, as the ultimate solution, replacing the regime in Tehran and [letting] the world stop the evil that emanates from there. They argue that Iran's [behavior is characterized by] maneuvering, hypocrisy and lies, and that there is no chance it will ever change. [However,] ask any Saudi official about solutions of this sort, and he will surely answer that 'Saudi Arabia always upholds the principle of non-interference in the affairs of others, and it refuses to take part in any plan that involves interference of this sort...'

"[But tell me,] can Saudi Arabia's cultural project, which is founded upon [principles of] moderation, good neighborliness, Islamic solidarity, and dialogue with the world co-exist with Iran's Islamic Revolution and its established ideals? To put it more briefly – can we trust Iran?

"We have tried many [different] ways of dealing with the [Islamic] Revolution regime. At first, [this regime] was openly hostile to Saudi Arabia, its history and its leadership, inciting against it and calling to topple its regime. During the Khomeini era, the hostility between the two countries peaked, to the point of bloodshed in Mecca, and Saudi planes shooting down Iranian planes over the Arabian Gulf.

"All this ended when [the Iranians] turned to reconciliation. King 'Abdallah, who was still crown prince at the time, did not hesitate to turn over a new leaf with [Iran, because] Saudi Arabia's [policy] has always been founded upon good neighborliness, dedication to maintaining stability, and hatred of war. Then came several good years in which high-level visits were exchanged, security agreements were signed, and trade fairs [were held]; the two countries exchanged [their staple export products], dates and pistachios, and Iranian pilgrims became welcome guests [in Mecca]. This was in the era of [former Iranian presidents] Khatami and Rafsanjani.

"[But then] came Ahmadinejad, who wreaks vengeance even on his own people. He has divided Iranian society to the point of clashes in the streets. The rhetoric of revolutionary [notions] and conspiracy [theories] has returned, and relations between Sunnis and Shi'ites in Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen have become tense. Hatred has mounted to the point of the shedding of innocent blood, and ancient enmities have reemerged.

"The revolutionary rhetoric has returned [to Iran]. If Saudi Arabia's discourse is grounded in 'good neighborliness, dedication to maintaining stability, and hatred of war,' is Iran's discourse founded upon 'revolution and a striving for hegemony?' [Apparently so, because] the speeches of Supreme Leader [Ali] Khamenei brim over with this kind of rhetoric..."

"We Must Refrain from Thinking Well of the Iranians"

"Ahmadinejad and his cronies prove that Iran has failed to embrace [moderation], and, moreover, that it is willing to fight its own people, to kill them in the streets of Tehran, to prosecute them, to degrade them, and to execute them – even those who played an honorable role in the Revolution or in [ruling] the state. If that is [how they treat] their own people, how will they treat those who do not share their [Shi'ite] faith, and whom they regard as an obstacle to their expansionist dreams and their Mahdist mission?

"Here is [an example of] an honest revolutionary Iranian position, neither obscured nor disguised by taqiyya.[2] The number two man [sic][3] in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps [was born] during the era of [Iranian] moderation. His father, guided by Allah in the correct path, named him Mir Faisal, perhaps in honor of [Saudi] King Faisal, who based his political plan for inter-Muslim cooperation upon [the principle of] Islamic solidarity. But now the son has had enough of moderation, and a few days ago he announced, in an official statement in the Iranian media, that he had changed his name to Seyyed Mohammad, in order to avoid any connection to the House of Saud [the Saudi royal family]. His announcement also included a series of allegations, [accusing] Saudi Arabia of waging war against Islam and its sanctities, of being in league with the imperialists, and of sowing division and dissent among the Muslims who are combating heresy and polytheism![4]

"[And] this man does not belong to the [Iranian] lunatic fringe, nor is he an imam in a neighborhood mosque. He message is well within the framework [of the accepted Iranian ideology]. Even his president could not denounce it or tell him that his announcement was unacceptable, let alone fire him for sowing dissent and harming a sister-country. In fact, even the leaders of the opposition did not condemn him, but said only that [his statements had been] 'inappropriately timed.'

"After all this, can we trust [this] regime whose leaders boast [that they can] topple our regime, and who even conspire to do so? We must always refrain from thinking well of [the Iranians] and from treating them gently – [especially] in the upcoming days that may bring developments that will cut them down to size and bring them to their senses. This is a fateful war not with our neighbors, the Iranian people, but with the revolution that refuses to mature. Saudi Arabia extended its hand in brotherhood, but they rejected it, and now they must pay the considerable price."

Endnotes:

[1] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), February 23, 2010.

[2] Taqiyya is a Shi'ite principle of hiding one's true beliefs in the company of non-Shi'ites.

[3] The officer in question is an IRGC official, but not the number two man in the organization.

[4] On Sayyed Mohammad's name change, see MEMRI Blog, February 21, 2010, "IRGC Official Changes Name to Differentiate Himself from Saudi King," http://www.thememriblog.org/blog_personal/en/24999.htm.

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