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Iranians should be careful about Anti-Arab sentiments

By Renad Ihab


Carter era documents show that when diplomacy and economic pressures failed to release the American hostages the United States encouraged Saddam Hosseinʼs 1980 attack on Iran. The objective was to put added pressure on Iranʼs government to release the hostages. As the war continued the United States initially supported Iraq and then pursued a policy of dual containment which meant preventing either side from achieving a decisive victory. This strategy prolonged the war. Iran paid a heavy price during the Iran-Iraq war which could have been avoided if it had pursued a more rational foreign policy.


In recent years Iran has ignored American pressures to abandon its nuclear program and the United States has several options for putting pressure on Iran. While a military strike on Iranʼs nuclear facilities is the United Statesʼ last and final options, it is exploring many other options before that one. The most visible American option that is currently underway is economic and financial sanction. This option has intensified since January 2006 and more sanctions are likely to be introduced in the first half of 2008. The second less visible option is to promote ethnic and minority revolts inside Iran. The U.S. has offered financial and material assistance to Ethnic Kurds, Arabs and Baluchis. The objective is to weaken and distract the central government through ethnic unrest.


So far these two options have not stopped Iranʼs nuclear program. Another option that the United States might explore in the near future is to encourage another Arab-Iranian conflict.  Current tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia over Iraq have increased the risk of conflict between Iran and Sunni Arab States. Iranʼs role in Lebanon and Palestine might also lead to an Arab-Iran conflict.


Some Neo-conservative activists in the United States are using the media to provoke distrust between Iranians and Arabs. Michael Ledeen (the author of Iranian Time Bomb) has mentioned on several occasions that Iranians hate Arabs. (See Ledeenʼs talk on C-SPAN on October 19, 2007).  He even goes as far as claiming that Iranians hate Arabs more than anyone else in the world. Such statements will have a negative effect on Arab perceptions of Iran and can promote anti-Iranian attitudes in the Arab world. 


Unfortunately, some secular Iranians who are resentful of Islam and the current Islamic regime, openly express anti-Arab sentiments. Some exiled nationalists who broadcast anti-regime propaganda from their Los-Angeles or London based TV stations, have made it a habit to blame the Arabs for Iranʼs decline after seventh century. They often combine anti-Islamic and anti-Arab sentiments in their propaganda. Unfortunately they are blind to the dangers that such sentiments pose to Iranʼs security. It is irrational to blame contemporary Arabs for the Islamic invasion of Iran in Seventh century. Many countries have been invaded by others throughout their history. Imagine how stupid it will be if they constantly remember their defeats and blame every failure on an invasion that took place hundreds of years ago. It is unfortunate that so many Iranian intellectuals keep silent in face of these irrational expressions of anti-Arab sentiments.


If it wasn't for the danger of Iran-Arab confrontation in these sensitive times, there was no need to take these anti-Arab sentiments seriously. But majority of Iranians are well aware of the current geopolitical risks and it is important to take a stand against such sentiments before they can be exploited by third parties to promote another bloody Arab-Iranian conflict.  Unfortunately anti-Arab sentiments are often expressed  in private family gatherings and passed from one generation to the next. They should be opposed in both private and public settings.


The European nations slaughtered each other for hundreds of years but they have finally come to accept each other and cooperate towards security and prosperity of a greater European community.  If the French and British can manage to get along Iranians and Arabs must also find a way to do the same.  Overcoming stupid old hatreds requires a concerted effort by enlightened Iranian nationals both inside and outside Iran


About the author: Renad Ihab is a retired professor of political science in Tehran University who lives in Europe.

... Payvand News - 12/04/07 ... --

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