Iraq should care about Arab Gulf security, not fret about Iran

Rather than fret about Iran’s security, perhaps Iraq and Qatar countries should think about peace and stability across the entire region.
Sunday 09/06/2019
Singing a different tune. Iraq’s President Barham Salih attends an emergency summit of Gulf Arab leaders in Mecca, May 30. (AP)
Singing a different tune. Iraq’s President Barham Salih attends an emergency summit of Gulf Arab leaders in Mecca, May 30. (AP)

When Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud called the Mecca summits involving members of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation, the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council, the idea was to forge Arab and Islamic unity and understanding.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the wider Arab and Islamic world have suffered because of Iran’s unceasing expansionist agenda but none have suffered more as a result of Iranian sectarianism than the people of Syria and Iraq.

It must surely come as quite an insult, then, when Iraq and Qatar opposed the Mecca summit’s final statement that emphasised Iran’s responsibility to cease its hostile and destabilising actions and that the countries of the Arabian Gulf deserved to have their peace, security and stability respected. These two countries prioritised their own narrow, short-term and selfish interests over the obviously great need to push Iran back into its box and to compel it to respect its neighbours and their security needs.

Qatar balked at adopting the final statement on grounds that it was apparently not consulted on its wording and that it contradicted Qatari foreign policy imperatives. As to the first point, Qatar was fully represented at the summit by a senior delegation. It is not as though the final declaration could have come as a surprise to Doha.

Further, it would seem obvious that Qatar’s decision to support Iran stems directly from the fact that it has moved ever closer to the Islamic Republic, despite Tehran launching a veritable sectarian campaign of slaughter against Doha’s fellow Sunni Arabs.

Iraq’s stance is slightly more nuanced in that Iraqi President Barham Salih’s rejection of the final declaration reflected the fact that Iraq is almost entirely an Iranian colony.

Salih was a long-time Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) member and the PUK has been an Iranian client for decades. Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi similarly has strong and lasting ties to hard-line Shia Islamist factions that were incubated and supported by Iran. Iraqi security services are riddled with infiltrators who are loyal to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and not to Iraq. Other IRGC Shia jihadist proxies run amok across Iraq with impunity.

What is striking about Salih’s reasoning in rejecting the final declaration of the Mecca summit is that he stresses how Iran’s security and stability are of critical importance to the security and stability of other Muslim and Arab states. Salih said: “Honestly, the security and stability of a neighbouring Islamic country [Iran] is in the interest of Muslim and Arab states.”

This is astonishing. Is Salih saying that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries threatened by Iranian meddling and its sectarian genocidal tendencies are not neighbouring Islamic countries?

Salih is essentially arguing that Iran’s security and stability trumps the need for any other country’s stability. Why? Are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates unworthy of peace, stability, security and the right to not be attacked by Iranian proxies or have their internal affairs meddled in by Tehran’s agents?

The Iraqi president claimed he fears an uncontrollable war breaking out in the region. He is right — no one wants war to happen. However, his reasoning for wanting to avoid this war has less to do with the sanctity of human life and the avoidance of mass destruction of civilian infrastructure and livelihoods than because he is afraid that a war on Iran would topple Iraq’s inherently unstable and corrupt system due to its reliance on Tehran’s goodwill.

Rather than fret about Iran’s security, perhaps these countries should think about peace and stability across the entire region.

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