Following reports that Russia is using Iranian-made drones to attack targets in Ukraine, articles in the Saudi and Emirati press accused the West of hypocrisy and of employing a double standard in the context of Iran's aggression. The U.S. and Europe, say the articles, have for years been ignoring the Iranian drones launched by the Houthis against Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and tolerating Iran's destructive actions in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. But now, when the Iranian drones are threatening Ukraine and Europe as a whole, the West has come responded forcefully against Iran and imposed new sanctions on it. The articles stress that the West is now paying the price of its naïve approach to Iran and disregard of Iran's crimes. The Biden and Obama administrations and the European countries , they say, ignored Iran's military and technological buildup, and the actions of its militias and the crimes it committed against the Syrian people, with Russian support. This essentially emboldened Iran to continue harming the countries of the region, and to come to Russia's aid in its war against Ukraine and against NATO.
The "Western world" ignores "the Iranian drones targeting the Arab world," but is shocked when they are used "against the West" (Al-Iqtisadiyya, Saudi Arabia, October 27, 2022)
The following are translated excerpts from some of these articles.
Senior Saudi Journalist: American, Western Silence Over Iran's Conduct Encouraged It To Threaten Europe
Senior Saudi journalist Tarek Al-Homayed wrote in the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily that it is the West's disregard of Iran's crimes, and of the Iranian drones that target the countries in the Middle East, that emboldened Iran to provide Russia with the drones that now threaten Europe. He added that confronting the Iranian threat will not be possible unless the U.S. maintains sound relations with Saudi Arabia and other regional countries. Such action also requires the formulation of an overall plan for dealing with Iran, he said. The following are excerpts from the English version of his article, published in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat's English edition.
"I prefer to be candid in my political commentary, to call a spade a spade. When it comes to Iran’s destructive actions in the region and across the world, we have to call it how it is. For this reason, I have to say that Iranian interference in the Ukraine war by supplying Russia with drones is an Iranian attack on NATO countries.
"Yes, just as it has targeted and is targeting our region, Iran is now targeting Europe. Iranian drones were used to attack oil processing facilities at Abqaiq in 2019, and these are the same drones that the Houthis have deployed against Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
"The Popular Mobilization Forces and Asaib Ahl al-Haq use these same drones in Iraq, and Hezbollah uses them to strike Israel. These drones are not new, but Europe and the United States have only recently woken up to them because Iranian drones are now hitting NATO countries [sic].
"Thus, it is the silence of the US and Europe, especially the endless mistakes that Americans keep making in the way they deal with Iran, [that] has emboldened Iran to attack European countries, NATO in particular…
"Alright, today Washington is saying that the Russians’ alliance with Iran, which was manifested in the use of the the drones in Ukraine and [in] the country sending its experts to Ukraine, threatens the international community. We don’t know how we can confront this alliance without good and positive relations with Saudi Arabia and thus, the countries of the region.
"And so, the fact that Iranian drones are now targeting NATO countries [by attacking] in Ukraine is not the result of fleeting contingencies. Rather, it is genuine aggression, and it demonstrates that remaining silent about Iran’s crimes, in both the region and Europe, has become a real and unprecedented threat.
"Iran does not just repress its citizens. It also targets the countries of the region, and it has destroyed four Arab capitals so far. Its drones now target a European capital, Kyiv, and Iran is doing so to target all NATO countries.
This matter does not require targeted sanctions on entities and individuals in Iran. Instead, it demands a comprehensive plan for how to address the dangers posed by Iran, which now threatens Europe with patent political blackmail.
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Tough sanctions must be reimposed on Iran, and a plan B for how to deal with it must be developed, even if it is a military option. We also need to speed up the building of an integrated defense system for the region that covers all its moderate and stable countries and Israel.
"Direct actions to target the Iranian militias in the region, from Syria to Yemen and from Lebanon to Iraq, must also be undertaken. Targeting does not necessarily imply military action, it could take the form of support for the forces opposed to those militias. More importantly than either this or that is the need to support the peaceful people of Iran facing the regime's vicious killing machines."
Democratic administrations in U.S. were lenient towards Iran, so it gained power over them (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, October 22,2022)
Saudi Journalist: U.S., Previously Helpless To Deter Iran, Now Rushing To Respond To Iranian Drones In Ukraine
Amal 'Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Hazani wrote in a similar vein on her column in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. She accused the U.S. and Europe of employing a double standard: they ignore Iran when it acts against Yemen and Saudi Arabia, but leap into action when the Iranian threat reaches Ukraine and thus Europe as a whole. She called on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf to see to their own interests before anything else:
"The double standard and the policy of the superpowers is unacceptable… Why does the West regard Ukraine differently from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen? Iran is the common element [threatening] all of them.
"In 2016 the Obama administration halted the sale of munitions to Saudi Arabia and even recalled its military advisors [from the kingdom], based on a clear stance that they had originally been sent there to fight Al-Qaeda, which had become weak. The Obama administration also refused to take a stance against the Iran-backed Houthis, thus reneging on its commitments from the beginning of [Obama's] presidency. The Biden administration continued this approach when it withdrew the Patriot air defense system [from Saudi Arabia]… In the beginning of his presidency, Biden sent a clear message to Iran and to Saudi Arabia by removing the Houthi militia from the list of terror organizations, [just] one day after he ended the military aid to [the Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting in] Yemen. Iran thanked him in its own way when [the Houthis] sent drones into Saudi Arabia, and in the months following their removal from the terror list the Houthis increased their attacks on Marib, Taiz and Al-Hudaydah [in Yemen], which cost [the lives of many] victims. This American move caused Yemen and the region only destruction, and increased Iran's hostility. Biden thought that this move would push the Houthis to make peace and facilitate bringing humanitarian aid [into Yemen], but none of this happened, simply because Iran is not inclined to peace… On the contrary, it derives benefit from the Biden administration's weak [stance] on the events in Yemen and its silence over the chaos in Iraq and the general devastation in Syria.
"[Recently,] Washington and the influential European capitals, like Berlin and Paris, and all the countries of the European Union, suddenly took a very hostile stance towards Iran. However, that was not because their conscience had belatedly awakened, but rather because Iran supports the Russians in the current war [in Ukraine]. Europe regards this war as a matter of life and death. As for Washington, it views it from a broader perspective, and sees the success of Russia in Ukraine as a success for the rival camp, whose most important [member] is China.
"[The West] was furious when Iran helped the Russian military, and protests were held in the European cities, demanding to [impose] sanctions on Iran and suspend the nuclear talks [with it]… The war in Ukraine exposed [and proved the truth of] many positions that have dominated the Arab perception for decades regarding the West's [purported] humaneness. For the U.S. withdrew from Syria after the Russians entered it, but is extending military and logistical aid to the Ukrainians against the Russians. The most important conclusion to be drawn from this is that the Western values apply only as long as the drums of war [beat] far from the ears of the Europeans, but when they draw close [to Europe], its furious governments and people rise up because their interests are being threatened.
"In this situation, what should the Arab states do, especially Saudi Arabia and the Gulf? It is their basic right to pay [the West] back in the same currency and look after their own interest, whether economic or political, without harming their allies, as far as possible… We all understand that every [country] is now entitled to place its own interests at the top of its agenda."
Russia uses Iranian drones against Ukraine (Al-Arab, London, October 19, 2022)
Emirati Columnist: The West Is Paying The Price Of Its Ignorance Regarding The Ties Between Russia and Iran
Khairallah Khairallah, who writes a column on the London-based Emirati daily Al-Arab, assessed that the new sanctions imposed by Europe on Iran for providing munitions to Russia will have little effect. The West, he added, failed to realize the depth of the ties between Iran and Russia, which were previously reflected in the war in Syria, and it is now paying the price of its mistaken assessments. He wrote:
"There is nothing surprising… in the fact that Russian President Putin is being aided by the Islamic Republic of Iran in his hopeless war against Ukraine. Russia's use of Iranian drones exposed the weakness of the Russian military, which has failed to defeat Ukraine. This fiasco [also] exposed the backwardness of the Russian military industry, especially when it comes to modern technologies. Putin failed to realized that a country with an economy much smaller than Italy's [i.e., Russia] cannot play the role of a superpower, no matter who many missiles and nuclear bombs it possesses.
"The Russian failure stems inter alia from the steadfastness of the Ukrainian people under the leadership of Volodymyr Zelensky, on the one hand, and from Ukraine's very strategic location, on the other. The Russian president did not realize that, having tasted freedom since the 1990s, the Ukrainian people [now] refuse to go back to being under Russian sponsorship.
"The Iranian ally leapt to the aid of [Russia], which never spared Iran any military and political aid. The coordination between Iran and Russia is evident, more than anything, in Russia's joining the war against the Syrian people in the autumn of 2015, when the Bashar Al-Assad regime and the Alawite parts [of Syria] were in grave danger. A visit to Moscow by Qassem Soleimani, then commander of the Qods Force in [Iran's] Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps [IRGC], was all it took to cause Russia to directly intervene in Syria…
"Even before this, in August 2013, Putin did everything he could to prevent the West from imposing sanctions on the head of the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons in his war against the Syrian people in the Damascus Ghouta.
"The West is [now] paying the price for disregarding the crimes of Iran and Russia in Syria. As far as it is concerned, Putin must not be allowed to win in Ukraine, because Ukraine is part of Europe and if it falls under Russian hegemony, the same may happen to other countries, such as Poland and Romania.
"The European Union's reaction after Iran sold Russia drones that were used to attack various areas in Ukraine was to impose new sanctions on the Islamic Republic [of Iran]. [But] these sanctions will not have much impact, simply because the relations between Russia and the Islamic Republic, represented by the IRGC, run much deeper than the West believes…
"The West should not be surprised that Russia is using Iranian drones in the Ukraine war, [for] the relations between Tehran and Moscow seem to be organic, just like the relations that Assad and his regime maintain with the IRGC and its proxies.
"The war in Ukraine has changed the world. But what hasn't changed is the West's naïve approach to Iran and to people like Vladimir Putin, who is willing to destroy all of Europe so that the Americans will recognize him as the leader of a vanished superpower, i.e., the Soviet Union. It is sad that the West never realized the practical implications of the Russian-Iranian connection. The Islamic Republic has joined the war against the Ukrainian people, and the IRGC is training the Russian military [to use] drones that do not distinguish between civilian and military targets in Ukraine.
"We are now seeing strange wagers and mistaken assessments [on the part of the West]. The West – Europe and the U.S. – is paying the price of its wagers and assessments, namely its assumption that it would be possible to separate Russia from Iran. These mistaken assessments did not consider the significance of allowing Russia and Iran to pulverize a people like the Syrians without being punished for it!"