Arab enmity towards Iran: Betrayal or bigotry?

By Ameen Izzadeen

Is a second Arab betrayal in the making? There appear to be many parallels between the Arab revolt against the Muslim Ottoman empire just before World War I and the present day Arab rulers’ demand that the United States attack Islamic Iran.
Nearly one hundred years ago, Arab tribal leaders pledged allegiance to Britain and betrayed their Muslim Caliph, the Ottoman emperor. From this betrayal flowed the balkanization of Arabia and the Levant — and three decades later the creation of Israel. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait and other Gulf states emerged as independent but client states of the West. Levant was broken into Syria and Lebanon while Palestine became a British trusteeship.
The main actors of this Arab revolt, engineered by British spymaster T.E. Lawrence and Foreign Office advisor Gertrude Bell, were Abdul Aziz bin Abdur Rahman Al Saud, who was widely known as Ibn Saud or the founder of Saudi Arabia, and Hussein bin Ali, the then governor of Makkah.
Britain promised them that they would be made the kings of Arabia. Ibn Saud, realizing that there could not be two kings for one Arabia, fought Hussein and defeated him and declared himself the king of Saudi Arabia. Hussein found refuge with the British who rewarded him by making one of his sons the king of Jordan and the other son, the king of Iraq. Thus began the legacy of Arab rulers paying pooja to the imperialist West. It continues even today.
Nearly one hundred years after the first Arab betrayal, the lid over the second one was blown off by the recent WikiLeaks exposés. The Arab rulers seem to be ganging up against another Islamic power — Iran. What is more striking is that the defeat and destruction of Iran is exactly what Israel also wants. Does this mean that the Arab rulers are in cahoots with Israel? This is the question being asked by the Arab masses and the rest of the Muslim world.
The Arab rulers are not only soliciting a US attack on Iran, but they also want Lebanon’s Hezbollah punished. According to US diplomatic cables posted on WikiLeaks, Saudi Arabia had suggested that Lebanon should be invaded by an Arab force backed by the United States and NATO to annihilate Hezbollah, a resistance movement, which restored Arab dignity by heroically withstanding Israel’s superior fire power in the 2006 Lebanon war.
The Arab masses are furious. Instead of giving leadership to the Arab world and liberating the Palestinian land from Israel’s occupation, Saudi Arabia had plans which would certainly have made the Zionists and their supporters in the United States happy. Won’t Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say that in Saudi rulers, we have an ally?
There were no diplomatic cables on the WikiLeaks website to indicate that the Saudis had urged the Americans to be harsh on Israel or to put pressure on the Zionist state to work towards a Palestinian state.
Saudi Arabia certainly has the potential to rise as a great Arab-Islamic power capable of uniting the Arab world and liberating Palestine from Israel. It can assume for itself the role of the Caliphate — similar to those that existed during the early days of Islam – and give leadership to the rudderless Islamic world. But it won’t. It has wealth, but its wealth goes to prop up the flagging US economy.
One classic example was the recent purchase by the Saudis of more than US$ 60 billion worth of arms, which the Saudis will never or hardly ever use. (See the graphic on this page for the total value of the US arms ordered by the Arab world.)
The kingdom won’t use its wealth for research and development to churn out Saudi/Arab/Islamic scientists and engineers who will discover new frontiers in medicine, physics and chemistry or manufacture the equivalent of F-16 fighter jets, long-range missiles and nuclear weapons. It is not that the Saudis are incapable of conceptualizing such a grand vision, but for reasons best known to Saudi rulers, the kingdom does not want to have one. The kingdom appears to be content with busting up its money in buying goods from and awarding contracts to the very imperialist powers, especially the US, which sustain the Zionist occupation of Palestine.
The Saudis’ opposition to Iran’s nuclear programme may stem from their fear that a nuclear Iran will be in a stronger position to instigate the Arab masses to revolt against the Arab rulers. The Saudi rulers are not so naïve as not to know that their pro-Western policies have made the masses they govern or oppress very angry. Thus it is no wonder that the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said in one of the diplomatic cables posted on WikiLeaks that the Saudis – please note not the rulers – were the biggest financiers of al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Lakshar-e-Toiba. These rich and anti-American, pro-Palestinian Saudis, surely must be furious that their government is toeing Israel’s line.
Some Saudi scholars, who suck up to the rulers, say Shiite Iran is a bigger threat to Sunni Islam and therefore it should be checked even if this means joining up with Israel.
But little do these Sheiks who sow bigotry realize that Iran is only filling the Islamic world’s leadership vacuum that Saudi Arabia, in deference to the United States, is refusing to fill.

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About ameenizzadeen

journalist and global justice activist
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