x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Iran's strategy has already made gains

If one wishes to classify the Iranian question as a major global affair, Tehran's position may be depicted as "strategic confrontation", wrote Ma'moum Fendi, a regular contributor in the opinion section of the pan-Arab daily Asharq al Awsat.

If one wishes to classify the Iranian question as a major global affair, Tehran's position may be depicted as "strategic confrontation", wrote Ma'moum Fendi, a regular contributor in the opinion section of the pan-Arab daily Asharq al Awsat. Otherwise, if one wants to bring a historical approach to the regional situation, an accurate description of Iranian diplomacy would be a "dynamo of the Middle Eastern cold war" reminiscent of Egypt under Gamal Abdul Nasser.

Now, there are four undeniable gains that Iranian diplomacy has achieved through "strategic confrontation". First, Iran has indirectly beaten Israel and undermined its military aura through its close ally Hizbollah in the 2006 war in Lebanon. Second, Tehran has managed to dissuade the West from resorting to a military option. Third, there is the rise of Shiite hegemony in the higher ranks of Iraqi politics, with the Iranians now closer to Iraq's strongest men than the Americans who heaved them into power are. Fourth, some small Gulf countries have yielded to these outcomes and hurried to congratulate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his re-election. "We must acknowledge that Iran has already won one battle," the writer concluded.

The recent vote held at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which set a precedent in two draft resolutions calling on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty and open its nuclear facilities to international inspectors, has betrayed the extent to which western countries are biased towards Israel, stated the Emirati daily Al Khaleej in its main leader.

Those western states that voted against the draft resolutions revealed the "hideous face" of the West and the hypocritical trumpeting of such mottoes as peace, democracy and human rights. Even though Israel owns 200 nuclear warheads, which is no secret anymore, many western countries still maintain that Tel Aviv is no threat to world peace and security. "This unconditional bias towards Israel robs western states of their credibility, waters down their diplomatic efficiency and affects their relations with the Arab world," the newspaper said.

How reasonable is it to keep urging North Korea to drop its nuclear plans? How does North Korea constitute a threat to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula if Israel is not a looming menace to the stability of the Middle East?

The Islamic Liberation Party (ILP) in London is claiming that the restoration of the caliphate system of rule - the succession of religious leaders - will heal all the woes of the Islamic world, wrote Abdul al Ansari in the comment pages of the Dubai-based daily Al Bayan. In one of its pamphlets, the party urges Muslims to work towards the revival of the caliphate system, and says failing to do so would be considered a sin. "These folks are living in the world's most ancient democracy and are dreaming of a caliphate. Were they actually living under their caliphate, they would be banned from speaking out and promoting their views in the first place," the writer said.

The pamphlet says: "No Muslim shall be allowed to adopt democracy, practise it or defend it, and doing so is strictly haram." The author of the pamphlet, Abdul Qadeem Zalloum, argues that democracy is problematic because it is man-made, it separates religion from state and it opens the door to public liberties. "Well, the caliphate that the ILP is calling for is a despotic system that lasted for over a 1,000 years, and all the Muslims got out of it was ignorance, discord and bloodshed," the writer said.

Flinching at difficult decisions and avoiding confrontation have become characteristic "policies" in Arab agendas, commented Mazen Hammad, a regular columnist in the opinion section of the Qatari daily Al Watan. "As part of some sort of undeclared covenant, Arab states are regularly swapping roles to shun responsibility and have 'someone else' take all the blame for fiascos.

"What we really need is an Arab version of Ariel Sharon - that's right - who turns tables, scrambles cards, destroys barriers and pumps blood into drying veins," he added. The chronic suffering of Iraqis and Palestinians, imminent loss of Jerusalem and collective suicide operations have failed to prompt Arab decisions makers out of their monotonous, fixed courses. "We are not only stranded outside history and geography and perfectly absent in any kind of significant political equation, but, now that we have agreed that resistance is synonymous with terror and that national allegiance can be for sale, we have derided our own right to existence."

* Digest compiled by Achraf A El Bahi aelbahi@thenational.ae