Al-Qabas Report, translated by Shammaa Ahmad
The danger of Iran is clearly visible, through its interference and the spread of its sectarian ideas and its pursuit of acquiring nuclear weapons.
The former head of Saudi Intelligence Agency, His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al-Faisal, affirmed that “the transformations and polarizations that the world is experiencing impose strategic challenges and a state of uncertainty that raises questions among leaders and peoples, indicating that the world is going through a difficult stage whose results are not easy to predict”.
During his hosting of a virtual meeting, today, by the Bahraini newspaper Al-Bilad forum, in which Al-Qabas newspaper participated as a main guest, as was the colleague of Al-Qabas advisor, Dahim Al-Qahtani. From “that exposure keeps the gates of the region open in front of chaos and outside interference.”
Prince Turki added, “We have a lesson in what happened in Iraq and how it was delivered at the lowest prices to Iran, as well as what we are witnessing of external interference in Syria”.
Prince Turki explained that, the security of the Gulf region is an international issue, not just a regional one, given the strategic and financial importance the region bears. The danger of Iran is clearly visible, through its interference and the spread of its sectarian ideas and its pursuit of acquiring nuclear weapons.
He added that, Iran’s leadership now is a real danger. All attempts for nearly 40 years to rationalize its policy have failed, and we are not hostile to Iran and we do not want its people to harm it, but a balance must be achieved with it, so any imbalance, Iran will exploit. Iran is also dangerous because of its decades-old insurgent behavior, and its endeavor to destabilize the security and stability of its neighbors and fragment their societies. The Iraqi trade offers an example of Iran’s influence, its exploitation of Iraq’s resources, sectarian play in it, and the fight against the Iraqi state.
Prince Turki stressed, “the need to restore Iraq to be a factor for security and stability in the Gulf, and the Iraqi forces that seek to do so must be supported and rid Iraq of the hegemony of Iran, which plays the same sabotage role in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, and this threatens the security of the Gulf.” Iran’s destructive policy is not different from the destructive effect of nuclear weapons seeking to possess it.
The Vienna talks
Regarding the talks of Iran and the member states of the nuclear agreement in Vienna and the need to involve Saudi Arabia and other Gulf and Arab countries, Al-Faisal said, “The Vienna talks will not eliminate our fears about the danger of Iran’s nuclear program, and the Gulf states must be at the center of the negotiations on the nuclear agreement, and all concerns should be discussed. Concerning Iran’s ballistic missiles and its regional interventions. The nuclear agreement did not take into account Iran’s neighbors due to Obama’s naivety, and the Gulf states’ welcoming of the agreement was on the basis that it would stop Iran’s aggressive behavior in the region, but what happened was the opposite, as its interventions increased and dominated regionally.
Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement was aimed at pressuring Iran to curb its interference in the region and address the concerns of countries in the region, but Biden returns to the agreement today. And if the agreement remains unchanged, it will fuel conflicts, and push the countries of the region to search for alternatives, including preparing for the day when Iran possesses the nuclear bomb. We want a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, but caution is required, and the Gulf states must prepare for all scenarios.
Tehran is blackmailing
Prince Turki stressed that, “Iran blackmailed Western countries with its nuclear program until it pushed the Obama administration to sign the agreement, according to its terms, and during the Trump era it increased its violations, and during the Biden era it prevented inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency from inspecting its sites and its nuclear program and increased uranium enrichment to strengthen its negotiating position and pressure”.
“Ahead of the Vienna talks. I ask the nuclear deal countries to be aware of Iran’s tricks. I am not optimistic about the Biden administration’s ability not to succumb to Iran’s blackmail, but France’s announcement of the need to discuss Iran’s missile program is important, and I hope that France has coordinated in this with Britain and Germany”, he added.
Regarding the agreement that China signed with Iran, Prince Turki believed that “there is something hidden that must be known and to know whether it will affect our security and the interests of the Gulf and Arab countries, but what is not that is not cause for concern. The Chinese foreign minister visited Saudi Arabia and the UAE before he went to Tehran to sign the agreement. It is based on the economic dimension, and is part of the China Belt and Road Initiative. Our trade relations with China are very strong, and I hope that after the agreement, China will increase its pressure on Tehran to deter its disruptive behavior in the region.
Prince Turki stressed about “the need to strengthen the Arab lobby in America and Europe,” but pointed out that “Iran’s successes do not stem only from the presence of a strong Iranian lobby in the United States, as there are other lobbies, including the Israeli lobby, which has an influential role in the United States’ stances regarding Arab world issues”.
He further said, “European countries define Iran as a sponsor of terrorism and support extremist organizations and are responsible for bloodshed and persecution of their people in the nuclear agreement, but in spite of this they offer concessions to Iran to ensure its interests. Western countries in general pursue their interests, and what is effective in dealing with them is the ability to influence, and we as Arabs have strong commercial relations with Europe that can be invested in pressure, and the Gulf countries are among the largest partners of China and Russia, so we, as Gulf and Arab countries, must have an active role in the major countries, and employing this in an Arab gathering that faces challenges”.
Regarding the administration of US President Joe Biden with Saudi Arabia, Prince Turki said, “Countries in their relations go through stages of ups and downs, according to circumstances and interests. Saudi Arabia has disagreed with the United States in many positions, including our disagreement with Trump about considering Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and cutting off oil from it for days. Saudi Arabia expresses its opinion in any circumstance, and rejects it whenever it wants”.
He added, “The consistency of our policy with America makes it easier for us to deal with each new administration. We heard harsh words from Trump before he became president, then he took a different approach with Saudi Arabia, and Biden will reconsider the relationship. What matters to us is to realize that it is based on long-standing issues, and not on urgent circumstances, just as common interests unite the kingdom in the United States”.
Withdrawal of US forces
Prince Turki stated that, “America has repeatedly affirmed that it stands by Saudi Arabia in defending its lands, facilities, economy and security, despite the withdrawal of some American forces from the region, and has also announced that it is providing the Kingdom’s weapons and defense means”.
His Royal Highness stated that, “Saudi Arabia has taken care of cybersecurity, and we have a specialized body, and since the last attack on Aramco, no new attack has succeeded in targeting its components or components of any other company. Saudi Arabia has important specialists in the field of cybersecurity, and the countries of the Cooperation Council coordinate with us in this.
Prince Turki supported the idea of “there being an Arab gathering that would redefine the priorities in the region and the concept of security and define the challenges from the point of view of the countries of the region, not from the point of view of America or Europe, so that the Arabs would have a place in the world”, pointing to the “success of the previous joint Arab effort in expelling colonialism”. From all Arab countries, as well as his role in the 1973 October War and the oil cutoff from the United States.
In his intervention, colleague Dahim Al-Qahtani, advisor to Al-Qabas newspaper, said that the Arab League had previously adopted a media campaign in the United States and Europe to confirm that there is no relationship between Arab countries and terrorism and that it is a victim of it, but unfortunately a campaign was not implemented.
He added, “Why not take the initiative as Gulf governments, civil society institutions and journalists to adopt a deliberate media campaign targeting decision-making centers in America and Europe, and targeting influential Western media as well?”
In response to the question, Prince Turki Al-Faisal said, “I do not know what is in place among the countries of the Cooperation Council in this regard, but I see and hear from Saudi newspapers that there are Saudi individuals and institutions that have such activity, even if it is limited, but it is a good beginning”.
“We also see on television the participation of Saudi people in the dialogues that take place on television, or in intellectual institutions in Europe or America”, he added.
“I also know that the Saudi Shura Council from time to time sends delegations to meet with the legislative councils in these countries, and Saudi universities host speakers from those countries and organize lectures for such activities,” he said.
“We have tens of thousands of Saudi students in Saudi Arabia who are in all parts of the world, and Saudi student clubs carry out such activities in their academic surroundings and communicate with their social surroundings in these countries,” he said.
And while Prince Turki Al-Faisal indicated the need for more of these activities, he mentioned, “I show only one example of an activity carried out by Israel, and I do not see it like it in the Arab world”.
“After the election of every legislative council in every American state, Israel invites members of these councils, as well as members of Congress in Washington to visit Israel, and during these visits the Israeli issues are introduced, and they link Israeli interests with these elected American representatives”, he said.
He added, “I wish we had had such activity, but until now all that I have seen are individual or intermittent attempts to do so”.
He explained, “Israel’s activity is not satisfied with the United States, but extends to all Western countries and also extends to China and Russia, and leads to the results that we see, which is the ability of Israel to influence these elected councils. This is one example I mention and we hope that we will follow it in the Arab world”.
Amr Moussa: An Arab Dialogue Parallel to the Vienna Dialogue
Former Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Amr Moussa, during an intervention at the forum, called for an Arab dialogue parallel to the dialogue of Iran and the nuclear agreement countries in Vienna.
He said, “The region is under threat, and Iraq must be restored and national forces supported in it. Arab countries were not consulted during the signing of the nuclear agreement, and our concerns were not taken seriously, and the Vienna talks today confirm the insistence on reviving or amending the nuclear agreement, despite the fairness of Saudi Arabia’s request to participate in the negotiations”.
However, other countries have not agreed yet, and we, as Arab countries, must launch a dialogue that is divided into the Vienna dialogue, which defines the concept of our security and our vision, and guarantees our stability, especially with talk about the possibility of reaching a nuclear settlement that does not address Iran’s missile program and its interventions in our region.
Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed: A difficult stage that requires collective action
The editor-in-chief of the Al-Arabiya channel, the writer Abdul-Rahman Al-Rashed, said in his intervention that, “the Vienna talks will most likely end with an agreement with limited infringements,” adding: “With the start of the departure of US forces from the region, confrontations with Iran and its militias in the region will increase. The major countries want the nuclear agreement”.
He added, “Our options as Arab countries are limited, and changing the facts on the ground is difficult. We do not want additional wars and conflicts, and the solution is in an Arab grouping, perhaps led by the Arab League. We are in a difficult phase that requires collective action, not just Gulf, in preparation for the scenarios of the Vienna talks and their outcomes”.
Dr. Muhammad Al-Rumaihi: Arab Lobby, Effective Governance, and Knowledge Production
Dr. Muhammad Al-Rumaihi, Professor of Sociology at Kuwait University, said that, “the Gulf and Arab countries should create an expanded, scientific and strong Arab lobby in America and Europe to influence the policies there and confront the effects of the Iranian lobby”.
He also called for “effective governance in the Arab world and the establishment of institutions to contribute to the joining of the Arab countries to the western liberal ranks and to mitigate the criticisms against the Arab countries”.
Al-Rumaihi also drew attention to “the importance of creating a platform that brings together Arab thinkers and translating their writings and ideas into several languages to produce knowledge that confronts the distorting roles of some countries and means of communication that are fighting Arab countries, especially at the time of Twitter”.
Original Article in Arabic on Al-Qabas International.
Shammaa Ahmad is an English Language Expert and a Political Enthusiast. She also translates reports on Middle-East affairs. She tweets under @Shammaa778Ahmad.