I Still Support Iran

Jihad el Khazen     Al-Hayat     - 06/12/05//

The incitement against Iran and its nuclear program goes beyond seeing the US launch a military strike against nuclear facilities, or Israel carry this out if the Israelis in the White House can't convince the administration to do this on Israel's behalf. This incitement includes the above and also involves an attempt to pit Iran against its neighbors, and between it and the rest of the world. There is the threat against oil supplies through the Straight of Hormuz and an increase in terror in the region and around the world.
Politicians and researchers try to avoid answering hypothetical questions, but the fear campaign about Iran rests on 2 hypotheses. One is that Iran will have nuclear weapons, and the second is that if it possesses these weapons, it will threaten everyone with them.
I've written about Iran's nuclear program more than once in recent months, and I've always felt that the Middle East should be declared a nuclear weapons-free zone. If Israel remains the only nuclear state, then it's the duty of Iran and every country in the region to possess nuclear weapons, to balance the Israeli arsenal.
I haven't changed my mind, but today I'll add the opinion of Abdel-Rahman Attieh, the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council. At a parliamentary seminar in Qatar that gathered 16 NATO countries and countries from the Gulf, he strongly attacked Iran and its nuclear program. I telephoned to ask about this, since he must have been expressing the convictions of the GCC states.
In a telephone conversation, Attieh confirmed that the GCC wanted a Middle East free of nuclear weapons; its position on Israel and its arsenal had been settled and was non-negotiable. In every statement and international forum on the matter, the GCC states have asked for the region to stay out of the nuclear race and for the end of Israel's nuclear weapons capability - there's a whole stack of such statements.
The GCC states don't want the Middle East to become an arena for international conflict and tension, and don't want to find themselves sandwiched between two nuclear powers. The region is very sensitive and plays a key role in the international economy, which means it shouldn't be left alone if the great powers see that oil supplies are in danger through the Straight of Hormuz, the bottleneck for oil exports from the Gulf.
Attieh rejects comparing Iran to Israel. There are common bonds in the form of religion, history, geography, heritage and mixing between the Gulf and Iran, although that doesn't mean the country should not be held accountable, especially after some of its stated positions and behavior have been worrying.
The countries of the Gulf are angry at Iran's refusal to make progress, to not take a single step toward solving its well-known disputes like the Tunb and Abu Musa Islands, occupied by Iran and whose return is demanded by the UAE, or like the continuing intervention in the affairs of other Gulf states, and the stoking of unnecessary tension in the region.
Increasing these worries of late was Iran's intervention into Iraq's affairs, and its intensive presence in the south of Iraq. With the beginning of talk about a partial US withdrawal from Iraq, Iran is a candidate to fill the vacuum. There is the beginning of US-Iranian coordination on the Iraq issue.
Attieh says that the GCC states need to be reassured. There are dangers and money should be spent on development, not weapons. In any case, the GCC states reject double standards and insist on ridding the Middle East of nuclear weapons, which must apply to all countries and not involve an exception for Israel.
I believe that Iran needs to show some flexibility, wisdom and modesty in dealing with its Gulf neighbors. It should reject all requests from its smaller neighbors, not because they are right, but because it can. The GCC's position on Iran's nuclear program would have been different if Iran had sought a satisfactory solution to the islands issue and stopped intervening in the affairs of this country or that.
Having said that, I still support Iran's attempt to possess nuclear weapons, as long as Israel has them. The best solution is a WMD-free Middle East, which is the position of the Arab League ever since Amr Moussa was Egypt's ambassador to the United Nations. It's also the position of the GCC and the majority of the world's states. However, the US sees Iran's possible weapons but doesn't see Israel's certain ones, and the countries of the European Union go along with this policy.
Of course, Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but I don't believe this. Even so, I'm with Iran against Israel and against the dual standards policy of the US and EU, since no one will believe Iran.
It's difficult to believe that a country swimming on a sea of oil and gas needs a nuclear program, so I hypothesize that Iran wants a nuclear bomb in the end as an insurance policy because it finds itself surrounded by nuclear states. I advise it to improve its relations with its neighbors in the Gulf and take the initiative to solve pending problems, to guarantee the support of these states. Iran can't make enemies of the countries of the region and the world, with its insistence on a nuclear program whose end no one can foresee.
Will we see Iran take a step soon, or steps, toward the Gulf's other states? I hope so.

To Be Continued