The inevitable clash with Iran
All possibilities exist when we consider the prospect of a military clash with Iran. It might be widespread, or limited to a targeted response to the recent attacks — or it might not happen at all.
However, the regime in Tehran ultimately will face the same fate as Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi. This is historically an inevitability for aggressive regimes, because their ability to survive and thrive depends on carrying out increasingly aggressive activities. This explains a lot about the problematic regime of Saddam Hussein, which engaged in direct battles with Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council nations, was about to go to war with Syria before that, and in the end clashed with the world’s major power, the United States, and was eliminated.
Aggressive regimes have a pattern of behavior they can rarely break, which leads them in the end to destruction and suicide, as in the case of Nazi Germany. This leads us to rule out the possibility that Tehran would deal with the crisis with anything other than extremism, defiance and pushing it toward further deterioration. This has been the regime’s nature since the establishment of the republic, when it declared that exporting the revolution is its goal. To this day, Tehran has been seeking to export revolution in accordance with its theocratic political vision and, because of this, the region is in a state of continuous turmoil.
For many years, the countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, have been affected by Iran’s policies and practices against them but have avoided pushing the situation toward a confrontation. However, the desire to deter Iran has almost always been present in minds and evident during panel discussions.
We must confront the regime in Tehran or else pay the heavy price of inaction and misplaced overconfidence.
The prospect was raised in a serious manner during the past decade when it became clear that Tehran was dangerously speeding up its nuclear project for military purposes. Saudi Arabia, along with the rest of the GCC countries, was reluctant to participate in any military operation. No one wants wars but with the postponement of the clash with Iran, the situation has worsened and become more dangerous.
Like Aleppo and Sanaa before them, the Saudi cities of Riyadh and Jeddah, and Fujairah in the UAE, have found themselves in the crosshairs of Iranian missiles, which were fired either directly by the regime’s forces or through its proxy Houthi militias.
We know from Tehran’s pattern of behavior that its operations will continue and it will not back down, until the day comes when the targeted countries are forced to confront Iran. Unfortunately, by then they will face a more difficult situation, as happened in Yemen. A confrontation there with the Iranian-backed Houthis was avoided until they took control of almost all of the country, and to expel the militias and restore the legitimate government, the allied nations were forced to liberate the country in a difficult war.
Even with a clear course of events toward the clash, some portray the dangerous situation of dealing with Iran with much disregard as if it were a joke — the blaming of Donald Trump and/or John Bolton. Well, the real problem lies in Tehran: Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The region has endured many wars and numerous terrorist attacks that were directed by Iran. Governments tried to control the situation in a number of ways, all of which have failed. Since the days of US President Jimmy Carter, when the clerics seized power in Iran, seven successive presidents have entered the White House and tried in various ways to contain, boycott or reward Iran in the hopes of persuading it to abandon its aggressive policies, all in vain.
Let us be realistic and deal with the problem as it is, not through conspiracy theories and considering what is happening a US-Israeli project or a commercial military project. Regardless of all the additional factors that are in play, including foreign interests that benefit from the crisis, there is no longer any question about the scale of the threat posed by Iran to the Gulf states and the wider region.
Now more than ever, there is no doubt about the intentions of the evil regime in Tehran. The reality of what is happening in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen means that the arguments from defenders of Tehran’s “good intentions,” and from those who attack the supposed ill intentions of the regime’s opponents, have been negated. We are faced with the reality that lies before us. We must confront the regime in Tehran or else pay the heavy price of inaction and misplaced overconfidence.
• Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat.