Arab officials from the Persian Gulf region have again been making comments to international media suggesting that they would support an Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Speaking at a media panel in Aspen, Colorado earlier this month, Yousef Al Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ambassador to the US, explained that “a military attack on Iran by whomever would be a disaster, but Iran with a nuclear weapon would be a bigger disaster.”
Otaiba said that an Israeli attack on Iran would spark street protests by Muslims throughout the region, but that leaders like himself would be willing to deal with that in exchange for eliminating the Iranian threat.
Iran, which is Persian, has been in conflict with its Arab neighbors for over 1,000 years, and has never ceased to seek hegemony over them. Iran is also a predominantly Shiite Muslim nation, whereas most Arab states are Sunni Muslim. The conflict between the two sects is often bloody, as evidenced by regular sectarian violence in Iraq.
While few believe Iran would actually fire a nuclear warhead at a fellow Muslim state, be it Shiite or Sunni, by simply possessing such weapons, Tehran would be able to exert enormous influence over regional religious, economic and diplomatic policies.
Jeffrey Goldberg, the Middle East expert for The Atlantic Monthly who moderated the Aspen event, told Der Spiegel that what most Western leaders fail to realize is that Otaiba’s views are shared by most Arab leaders. In other words, an Israeli strike on Iran should be seen as a viable military option to the nuclear crisis, as it will not result in war between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors.
Even in Saudi Arabia, a prominent cleric told the German magazine that he and others recognize that “Israel’s agenda has its limits…it is mainly concerned with securing its national existence. But Iran’s agenda is global.”