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Rhetoric of Stability and Rhetoric of Fire

Rhetoric of Stability and Rhetoric of Fire

Monday, 17 June, 2019 - 06:45
Ghassan Charbel
Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper
In the Gulf region, the visiting journalists asks himself: Does the Iranian regime need to stoke tensions with the West and its neighbors every once in a while to strengthen the regime and revive unity under the pretext of lurking dangers against the country? Is it difficult for Iran to take the road of a normal state that lives according to international rules and norms? Does it fear that heading towards becoming a normal nation would inevitably lead to the demise of the regime or lead to fundamental changes within it?

Since the success of the “revolution” in Iran, the region has been experiencing a crisis of coexistence. Coexistence between Iran and its neighbors. Misunderstanding has become a constant rule that is accompanied with fears and doubts. Against this backdrop, you have no choice but to update your arsenal to act as your shield should the world consider confronting crises before they erupt. Bolstering arsenals and seeking alliances.

Questions were running through my mind as I made my way to the office of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. What is Saudi Arabia’s stance on the current crisis after the targeting of oil tankers and repeated Houthi attacks on its soil? What about the war that many parties are worried about erupting? How does Riyadh assess its current relations with Washington? What about the conflict in Yemen? What about the situation in Sudan? This is besides the questions about the major transformation in the Kingdom through Vision 2030.

On the war, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Asharq Al-Awsat, in the interview published Sunday, that the “Kingdom does not want war in the region, but we will not hesitate in dealing with any threat against our people, sovereignty and vital interests.” He added that fulfilling the Vision’s goals “demands a stable and enabling environment in the Kingdom and region.”

He also stressed that policy of destabilization and stoking sectarianism and extremism was formed in recent years as part of the so-called policy of “exporting the revolution.” This approach has not changed and he noted that Iran has used the economic benefits of the nuclear deal to support its hostile acts in the region, instead of dedicating them to improving the lives of the Iranian people. He summed up the problem with Iran as being about a crisis over the establishment of a normal state. He said: “The choice is clear before Iran. Does it want to be a normal country that plays a constructive role in the international community or does it want to be a rogue state? We hope that the Iranian regime would opt to become a normal country and cease its malign behavior.”

The key term here is “normal state.” This means a state that lives within its borders, deals with others through legitimate channels and binds its international relations to international treaties, rules and norms. A “normal state” does not allow itself to infiltrate the borders of others and their national fabric. It does not allow the formation of isolated fortified islands or mini roaming armies that seek to change balances of power and usurp the decision-making power of capitals and link them to the major Iranian coup in the region.

The truth is that the crisis of ties with Iran preceded the crisis that erupted when Trump’s United States withdrew from the nuclear deal and imposed unprecedented sanctions against Tehran. Until this point in particular, we can say that the problem lies in Iran’s behavior in the region and its ballistic missile arsenal, meaning the two points that Tehran sought to keep out of the nuclear pact, which was signed by the former American administration of Barack Obama.

The peoples of the region have no right to impose on the Iranians the nature of the regime that they prefer to live with. In return, however, the people in the region have the right to reject Tehran’s attempts to interfere in their countries and way of life. This recognition of the rights of peoples and countries is one of the conditions for coexistence and stability, without which tensions and major crises would remain and persist.

The people of the Middle East need a fraction of stability in their lives. They have wasted so much time. They have been exhausted by long wars and endless fears. They need to become part of the global technological development, build a modern economy, provide job opportunities and develop education. They need investment, stability and prosperity.

On Yemen, the Saudi Crown Prince reiterated the principles that the political solution there should be based on. He also pointed out that Iran was behind the failure of this solution through its proxy militias. He underlined Saudi Arabia and the Arab coalition’s commitment to “protecting our national security as the Kingdom cannot accept the presence of militias operating outside the apparatus of states on our borders.”

On Sudan, he said: “We are greatly concerned with the security and stability of Sudan, not only due to the strategic importance of its location and danger of the collapse of its state institutions, but also the strong brotherly ties that bind us.”

Furthermore, he stressed that the Kingdom “places great importance on the strategic ties with the US. They are relations that extend to more than 70 years during which this strategic partnership has defeated several challenges that have targeted the security, stability and sovereignty of our countries.” Those assessing the development of these ties, realize that Riyadh and Washington have overcome differences on several issues, because complete harmony is not a precondition for maintaining ties between allies. These relations have overcome difficult challenges and major strategic interests have defeated fleeting crises.

It is clear that the Gulf region is passing through a major test. A test between those adopting the rhetoric of exporting unrest and those adopting the rhetoric of providing conditions for stability in search of prosperity. The Gulf crisis is not new as it is one between coexisting between the rhetoric of stability and rhetoric of fire.

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