Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Iran Has Broken All Prohibitions!

We are facing a tidal wave of American and European statements about Iran and the nuclear negotiations in Vienna, as well as the Houthis, to which we can add Washington’s statements about the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.

Despite all of these statements, we have not seen actions or repercussions worth mentioning, and no one expects anything from these statements. More importantly for our region, every prohibition has been disregarded, and every red line has been crossed- not just today, this has been the state of affairs in the region since 2011.

Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his people, and nothing happened. Iranian militias are roaming the region, going from Lebanon to Syria and Yemen, and wreaking havoc in Iraq. Militias are destroying the social fabric of their countries and undermining the state as a concept. The West, led by the United States, has done nothing.

One may say that Washington should not be expected to wage wars in the region and that the administration’s priority is serving the American people. That is absolutely true, and the US is not being asked to fight our battles for us.
The demand is very simple. Neither the US nor the Europeans should grant the Iranians things that they do not deserve or do not possess. The French, for example, should understand that Hezbollah does not own Lebanon and that the country is occupied by the Iranian militia.

The Americans should understand that Iran does not own Iraq or the Shiites- be they Lebanese, Iraqi, or from other countries; they are against Iranian intervention. Syria does not belong to Iran or any of its neighbors, and historical political mistakes are not the same as geographic realities.

And so, we ask Washington and the West not to take the region’s security lightly. Indeed, our countries’ security and stability should be taken very seriously, and doing so implies treating all forms of terrorism, be it Sunni or Shiite, the same way.
Al-Qaeda and ISIS are no less dangerous than Hezbollah, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the Iranian militias deployed in Syria, or the Houthis. Each of them, both their members and leaders, is a different side of the same coin.

We ask that Iran not be negotiated with leniently and that the negotiations not be limited to questions of nuclear enrichment. Instead, these negotiations should prevent Iran from financing and arming terrorism and militias in the region. Additionally, serious coordination is needed to push back against Iran’s arms in the region, as without a carrot and stick, you cannot have serious negotiations.

The United States cannot ignore the Iranian regime, which is sowing chaos across the region and funding terrorism, as it focuses on China or confronting Russia. We cannot say that the region and its states have not changed or that Washington is not concerned with protecting “traditional” allies; none of that is true. Moreover, we have a genuine axis of Arab moderation, and it is seeking to enhance lives, not spread wars and destruction like the Iranian model. One example demonstrating that the problem lies in Washington is the US disregard for its ally, Israel, and its stance on Iranian aggression in the region. The latter has explicitly said that it is not bound by the outcome of negotiations in Vienna and considers itself the guarantor against Iran ever possessing nuclear weapons.

Thus, the US statements are nothing but an attempt to revolve crises, including President Biden’s statements about potentially putting the Houthis back on the terror list. In truth, removing them was a mistake, and delaying their re-designation as a terrorist group is also a mistake. Being lenient with Iran is a graver mistake.

Briefly: All states should act like states, especially those of the size and strength of the United States!