June 30, 2008 Special Dispatch No. 1974

Saudi Columnist: "Aren't the UAE Islands Also Arab Territory, Which Iran Occupied By Force of Arms?"

June 30, 2008
Iran, The Gulf, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 1974

In a June 17, 2008 article in the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, columnist Muhammad bin 'Abd Al- Latif Aal Al-Sheikh writes about the arrogance of the northern Arab states vis-à-vis the southern ones, arguing that the Gulf states should not support them or their causes unless and until they support the Gulf states against Iran.

The following are excerpts from the article: [1]

"The 'Arabs of the North' Are Now Defending Iran with Unparalleled Zeal"

"The 'Arabs of the North' – the pan-Arab ideologues – are now defending Iran with unparalleled zeal, as if defending a brother. They stand with it in the same trench, in opposition to the U.S., which rejects [the idea of] Iran possessing nuclear weapons. The reason for this is that Iran supports the Palestinian cause, and its president does not tire of threatening that he will, as he puts it, soon erase Israel from the map.

"These exaggerated claims are just soap bubbles, a publicity stunt to attract popular Arab support. They have no basis in fact, and are of no consequence in strategic calculations in the region.

"And at the same time, the Arabs of the North are continuing to pressure the Gulf Arabs, demanding that they stand with them politically, financially, and logistically, in support of the Palestinian cause and against the occupying enemy. Yet they – [both] the pan-Arabists among them and the Islamists among them – do not lift a finger against the Iranian occupation of UAE islands, for example, and pay no heed to the Iranian threat to the Gulf states – as if the issue does not concern them at all.

"The question is: Aren't the UAE islands also Arab territory, which Iran occupied by force of arms, exactly as Israel did [to Palestine]? Doesn't Iran reject any negotiations over them? Why have the Arabs of the North marginalized this issue, as if there is no connection between themselves and this territory, and passed over the Iranian occupation of it [in silence]?"

"Since When is Pan-Arab Support a One-Way Street – Leading Always to the Arabs of the North and Their Issues?"

"By God, what is the difference between the occupied land of Palestine and the occupied land of the UAE? Aren't they both Arab territories, according to the pan-Arab standards that say that the land of the Arabs extends from the Gulf to the [Atlantic] Ocean?

"Since when is pan-Arab support a one-way street leading always to the Arabs of the North and their issues, and not to our issues as well?

"The problem with the Arabs of the North and their culture, and with those influenced by it, is that they are still living in the cultural discourse of the 1950s and 1960s. [In this discourse,] they are the Arabs of the center, and the rest are the Arabs of the periphery. Their issues are the important ones, and in comparison ours are marginal. They are the 'exporters' of culture, and we are merely its recipients."

"Some of the Arabs of the North Are In a Strategic Alliance with the Occupying Persian Enemy"

"We must reject this superciliousness and be firm with them, especially since we see that some of the Arabs of the North are in a strategic alliance with the occupying Persian enemy. It goes without saying that, according to all the indicators, the primary and most dangerous enemy of the Gulf states is Iran…

"Our first priority must be [to establish] reciprocity between our stands on their issues and their stands on our issues – and first and foremost [on the issue of] the imminent Iranian threat. As long as they pay no attention to our issue – the Persian menace – what reason is there for us to be very generous and stand with them on their causes?"

"The Time Has Come… To Deal With This Culture of Supercilious Arabism as Equals – And Not To Submit to Its Extortion"

"The time has come, gentlemen, for us to deal with this culture of supercilious Arabism as equals, and not to submit to its extortion, and not to be just an echo of them and their culture, as some of our intellectuals unfortunately are. We have wealth, we have stronger international ties, and we have superior experience in development than all of the Arabs of the North, without exception.

"Why should we not dictate our conditions to them, in a way that serves our interests and wards off the Iranian threat, which I see becoming greater and more fearsome with the passage of time? [This is true] especially since the arrival of the extremists in power in Iran, and the exclusion of the reasonable and prudent voices – those known as the reformists – of which former President Khatami was the emblematic representative.

"Let us always remember that politics does not recognize generosity and philanthropy!"

[1] Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), June 17, 2008.

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