Following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban's takeover of the country, Saudi columnist Safouq Al-Shammari wrote that the Biden administration's policy is feeble and dangerous, and that the allies of the U.S. must understand that they cannot rely on it to eliminate the Iranian threat. The conclusion to be drawn from the tragedy of Afghanistan, reasoned Al-Shammari, is that the Middle East countries must form a new regional security and defense mechanism and work together against Iran and its militias. He even argued that Israel should be given a free hand to act against the Iranian nuclear program, whether or not this is counter to U.S. policy.
Al-Shammari's column is one of several published recently by Saudi columnists who expressed concern about the developments in the region: Ebrahim Raisi's election to the presidency in Iran, the series of Iranian attacks on tankers and shipping vessels in the region, and Hizbullah’s rocket attacks against Israel. They argued that confronting Iran is necessary, and that it must be dealt with firmly because it "understands only the language of force." The negotiation policy of the U.S. and the West vis-à-vis Iran is futile, they said, because it serves only Iran's interests and even encourages its aggression.
The following are translated excerpts from these articles:
The Tragedy In Afghanistan Shows That Iran, Houthis Must Be Firmly Confronted Without Consideration For America's Policy
Saudi columnist Safouq Al-Shammari wrote in the Al-Watan daily: "The Biden administration behaved in a dangerous manner that will affect global stability, security and peace. It handed Afghanistan, and all the gear, weapons and technology [supplied by the U.S.], to the Taliban on a silver platter… It [also] handed over the prisons, in which thousands of Al-Qaeda and ISIS members were incarcerated, to the Taliban, which immediately released them. So the equation is now very clear: [we have] thousands of extremists, plus modern weapons and gear, plus territory and shelter – and the implications are obvious…!
"The greater disaster is that the [American] foreign policy and national security team that handled the Afghanistan issue so badly is [also] handling issues like Iran and [its] nuclear dossier, as well as Iraq, so we must not be surprised by any disaster [this team] will create in the future! Even moderate democrats have begun saying in side talks that, if this team did not manage to handle the exit from Afghanistan, how can it handle a large issue like China?
"America's allies and enemies are [both] examining this tragedy very closely. [America's] allies have learned that whoever wraps himself in the American [cloak is actually] naked, and that history is repeating itself, from [the time of the Iranian] Shah until [the present events in] Afghanistan. Conversely, America's enemies now have more appetite to provoke it, due to the incompetence of the present [U.S.] administration.
"That said, every [development], however negative, has some positive aspect. After what happened, the U.S. will no longer preach to any [other country] about international crises… or about how to handle the crises in its region. Take Yemen, for example. The demands of the [American] socialist left regarding Yemen are no longer relevant, and if anyone opens his mouth, he will be silenced [by citing] the farce of Afghanistan!
"We should take a lesson from the events in Afghanistan, and especially from the mistakes [that were made there], regarding Yemen. This is the time to crush the Houthis without considering the international forces, for we have a readymade argument: [we must] prevent the tragedy we are seeing in Afghanistan from recurring [in Yemen]…
"[We] must also form a new security and defense mechanism to defend the Middle East against Iran and its allies and against terror, despite the internal disputes that prevail between some of [our countries] – because, with this lame U.S. administration, it has become vital for us to unite around [our] supreme interest… Giving Israel a free hand regarding the Iranian nuclear issue has become a reasonable [option], and [the Americans] know this better than anybody else. As much as I hate to say this, it seems like [Israel's] extremist [former prime minister], Netanyahu, was right to avoid coordinating with the [present] U.S. administration, which he considered weak and failing.
"The Middle East countries must now help themselves or coordinate among themselves, so as to attain their supreme interests without considering America's opinion or criticism. They must do what must be done, and a few American words of criticism or condemnation will not hurt them… [In fact,] if [the Americans] begin condemning and preaching… we can send them the picture of the helicopter evacuating [diplomats] from the U.S. embassy in Kabul, or the video of those poor Afghans who clung to the American [Boeing] C-17 [as it taxied] down the runway and some of whom even fell from it as it took to the air!"
Cartoon in Saudi daily: The international community ignores the pro-Iranian militias' bloodshed (Source: Al-Iqtisadiyya, Saudi Arabia, August 21, 2021)
Editorial In Saudi Daily: No Room For Appeasement Policy Vis-A-Vis Dictatorship Which Employs Terrorism; Iran's Proxies Leading Lebanon To Unnecessary War With Israel
Following Hizbullah's August 4, 2021 firing of several rockets from Lebanese territory into Israel, the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh published an editorial titled "Lebanon and the Absurd Rockets." It said: "It appears that Lebanon will be the frontline from which Iran will launch vengeful missiles at Israel without even considering what price Lebanon will pay for the Ayatollahs' adventures and for the crimes they perpetrate on its soil. The current situation is reminiscent of 2006, when [Hassan] Nasrallah declared that his missiles would reach Haifa and the [actual] result was the destruction and devastation of Lebanon and its people. At the same time, Iran was not affected at all and shed not a single drop of blood, for its agents waged war on its behalf.
"What Iran is now demanding of Lebanon far exceeds its abilities. Lebanon is being dragged into the camp that contravenes its nature and its [social] makeup. It is expected to be a frontline soldier of the enterprise of the Ruling Jurisprudent [i.e., the Iranian regime], a regional player in wars not its own, subordinate to Iran, which is fighting against a regional and international alliance. This will lead to sanctions against [Lebanon] and the complete isolation of its people.
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"The truth is that no reasonable person can ignore the fact that [Iran's] absurd plan against Lebanon and its people will be difficult [for Lebanon] to continue, especially when the barriers it faces are so high. This plan cannot be realized through war against superpowers that are capable of destroying Iran itself. Nor can it be realized in the framework of a future agreement [between Iran and the U.S.], even if the U.S. administration will be pressured into returning to the 2015 nuclear agreement and into lifting the sanctions from the Iranian regime. The Iranian regime and its agents cannot survive in a civilized and stable world. They believe in a policy of bargaining aimed at achieving excessive privileges and concessions [from the other side], even if this is done through terror, cyberwarfare, extortion, assassinations, abductions and so on. That is why the world must not grant Iran any privileges that will revive it. There is no more scope for making concessions to this wild dictatorship, for the policy of appeasement has been defeated, and the only language this regime understands is that of force. Otherwise, Iran will continue to blackmail the international community."
Cartoon in Saudi daily: Iran's bloody route passes through Syria, Lebanon and Yemen (Source: Al-Madina, Saudi Arabia, August 11, 2021)
Saudi Columnist: A Confrontation With Iran Is Necessary; It Will Never Be Part Of A Peace-Loving WorldM
Columnist Khaled Al-Malik wrote in the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah under the headline "Iran – Terrorism on Land and in the Sea": "Iran constitutes a threat to the countries of the region, in the sea, on land and in the air, whether directly, which it denies, or through its proxies: the Houthis in Yemen, Hizbullah in Lebanon, and the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU)  and other organizations in Iraq. [Yet] the countries of the world continue to employ a pragmatic policy toward it, based on appeasement and enticements – which elicit no response from the Iranian leadership, and even encourage it to increase its aggression and diversify its terrorism – without considering any sanctions. On the contrary, there are countries that ally themselves with it in order to harm the West, and especially the U.S.
"America's policy toward Iran has weakened its own standing, especially given the repeated launching of rockets and drones by [Iranian] proxies against the U.S. bases and embassy in Iraq. [All the while,] Iran adheres to its aggressive basic principles even under U.S. sanctions, and is determined to dictate the terms under which these sanctions will be canceled, such as cosmetic changes to the nuclear agreement, whose amendment is currently being discussed with Iran.
"Iran is undoubtedly a rogue state, and anyone who claims differently is ignoring the truth. Whoever thinks there is a chance of convincing the Iranian regime that Iran should be part of a civilized and peace-loving world is deluding himself…
"We want stability in the region, and to this end all the world countries must reexamine their positions and their cooperation with Iran, and put it in its natural place. The situation is critical. Terror is on the rise, and it is no longer conceivable to remain silent in the face of Iran's crimes or to submissively accept its aggressive policy or its steadily worsening satanic actions.
"This situation makes it necessary to confront [Iran], today rather than tomorrow, in ways that conform to the international norms and the conventions regulating international relations. Iran must not be treated as a special case."
Cartoon in Saudi daily: Iranian maritime threat (Source: Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, August 20, 2021)
Senior Saudi Journalist: Iran Keeps Lying To The World, So The West's Dialogue With It Is A Mistake; It Understands Only The Language Of Force
Tarek Al-Homayed, the former editor of the Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, wrote: "Iran's [former] president Hassan Rohani, who [recently] left office, says that, during his eight years in office, there were times when his country 'did not tell the whole truth' to the people. He added: 'What I told people did not clash with reality, but I did not tell them the whole truth… because I did not think it would be beneficial and feared it would undermine national unity… If this disgraces me, I apologize to the people and beg their forgiveness and mercy.'
"In clear and unequivocal terms, these statements by Rohani mean that his government consistently lied to the citizens – [but] that is an internal [Iranian] affair. The [real] question pertains to Iran's lies to the region and to the international community! How many times has it lied – only during Rohani's term in office, not since Khomeini's revolution – to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Yemen, Lebanon and Syria, and how many crimes has it perpetrated against the region and its peoples? How many times has it lied to its allies, China and Russia? How many times did it lie to the Europeans in the nuclear agreement? How many times did it lie to the Americans…? How much did it lie whenever it declared it was willing to dialogue with its neighbors? How many times did it lie when it repeatedly claimed that regional stability must be attained only through mutual understandings among its countries, and that the West has nothing to do with this, and then… negotiated with the West in order to convince the Americans that [Iran] must play a role in our region[?]
"How much did Iran lie, and how much is it still lying, when it says that [it has] a religious ruling that bans the possession of a nuclear bomb[?] What it has done and continues to do in the region is no less destructive than a nuclear weapon. Suffice it to mention that its ally, [Syrian President] Bashar Al-Assad… used chemical weapons against his people with [Iran's] backing and sponsorship. How much did Iran lie when it spoke of the stability of the region while funding and arming the Houthis [in Yemen] and the [Shi'ite] militias in Iraq, as well as Hizbullah, the organization of ruin and destruction in Lebanon? And now it is creating a naval security crisis in our region! How many times did Iran lie about its ties with the extremist organizations, and not just the Shi'ite ones but also the Sunni ones, like Al-Qaeda… and ISIS?...
"It is possible to fill pages and even books with questions regarding the times Iran lied and continues to lie, not to its people but to the region and the entire world, and the crisis [caused by] the attack on the Israeli ship only proves its systematic and unceasing lies.
"Therefore, Rohani's statements about not telling the Iranians the truth during his eight years in office are not surprising and are not a reflection of political courage… because the issue is larger. The issue is that anyone who maintains ties with the Iranian regime, or follows it, knows that this regime regards lying as part of [its] diplomacy and ploys, [not even worthy of] condemnation. The West is fully aware of the lies of the Iranian regime, [yet] it prolongs the crisis in the region in an attempt to appease Iran and give it chance after chance. This is a mistake, for Iran understands only the language of force. That's why we should look at the 'dialogue' between Israel and Iran – for Israel has completely realized what language Iran understands, and has started to address it in that language."
Cartoon in Saudi daily: "Raisi's government in Iran" (Source: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, August 22, 2021)
Former Shura Council Member: Iran's Unprecedented Bullying Is Met With Feeble American And European Response
Responding to the Iranian attacks on vessels in the Persian Gulf, Saudi journalist and former Shura Council member Zuheir Al-Harthi wrote in an August 7, 2021article headlined "War in the Sea: Iran's Bullying and the International Silence!": "The events in our region now occupy a central place in the news, because there are those who want this region to stay constantly tense, for the sake of their own agendas. All the destruction in this region is connected to Iran and its proxies, [but] another sad fact is that this Iranian bullying, which is steadily growing worse, is met with feeble American and European responses, and nothing more. Iran clearly regards the seas and the international shipping lanes as tempting and suitable arenas for its destructive activity and for conveying its political messages by means of naval mines and drones.
"This is not an exaggeration but a reality that is taking root day by day, and let us hope that the latest coordinated statements of the American and British officials in response to the Iranian attacks on shipping are not just soap bubbles and attempts to allay the anger and concern about the repercussions [of these attacks] – because nothing deters Iran; it understands only the language of force.
"No other country in the world uses bullying tactics and openly violates international law the way Iran and its Rule of the Jurisprudent regime do. [Iran] is a rogue state that ignores every law, norm and convention, and disregards the reactions [to its behavior]. It provokes [other countries] by means of its [Islamic] Revolutionary Guards [Corps] and engages in criminal acts of piracy: plants mines, hijacks tankers, and paralyzes international shipping in an area that is considered one of the main arteries of the global economy. Yet the international community does not lift a finger [to stop this]… The UN's frustration is clear to all. [But] although the international conventions and the principles of international law are clear and must be implemented in practice, this old organization's handling of the crises in the region, and especially of Iran's actions and its disregard [of the law], is still questionable…
"What Iran is doing in the region is playing with fire. Realistically, the U.S., Russia and Europe will not tolerate the ongoing violations of the freedom of shipping and [the attacks] on the trade and the oil [supply] routes – not because of their love for the people of the Gulf but because [Iran's actions] harm their lives, their economy and their livelihood, and its cost is no doubt huge. Therefore, they cannot reasonably be tolerant with Iran if it continues its provocative and worrying behavior. Some demand to include in the nuclear agreement not only the issue of [Iran's] ballistic missiles and interference in [other] countries, but also the crucial issue of shipping security in the Gulf and in the Sea of Oman – for the harm [caused by attacks on these shipping lanes] impacts the economy of the entire world.
"There is a need to reexamine the structure of the UN, along with the role of the Security Council and its decision-making mechanisms, because the flaws of this international organization require surgery, not just painkillers. The silence of this organization in the face of Iran's capricious behavior in the Arabian Gulf is proof of this. There is a need to convey a message to Iran, on behalf of the world, that its barbaric actions will not be tolerated, and that it will be held to account for its violations of international law…
"The duty to deter Iran and protect international shipping and the global oil supply belongs to the international community, for it is no longer a question of which option is better or worse. Rather, the world must unite to confront the dangers caused by the behavior of the rogue states, such as the Iranian regime, which has deviated from the international norms, laws and conventions."
Cartoon in Saudi daily: The U.S., threatening Iran with a feather, urges it to "say yes," but Iran keeps saying "no." (Source: Al-Iqtisadiya, Saudi Arabia, August 15, 2021)
 Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), August 19, 2021.
 Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), August 7, 2021.
 An umbrella organization in Iraq, consisting mostly of pro-Iranian Shi'ite militias, which operates in parallel to the Iraqi armed forces.
 Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), August 6, 2021.
 Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 4, 2021.
 'Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 7, 2021.