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'Hajj' Robert Malley

'Hajj' Robert Malley

Wednesday, 26 January, 2022 - 09:45
Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Reuters quoted the lead US nuclear negotiator, Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley, as saying that his country was unlikely to reach an agreement with Iran in Vienna, unless Tehran releases four US citizens it is holding as hostages.

“They’re separate and we’re pursuing both of them. But I will say it is very hard for us to imagine getting back into the nuclear deal while four innocent Americans are being held hostage by Iran,” Malley told Reuters in an interview.

Well, is it about a rational political statement, or a provocative stance for our entire region? It is true that the US envoy takes into account the interests of his country, and we would even say that it is a human issue, but what about an entire region suffering from Iranian terrorism?

In Washington, Robert Malley is nicknamed “Hajj Malley”. Is it reasonable for the Hajj to talk about four prisoners and ignore four Arab capitals that were destroyed because of Iran?

Is it conceivable that “Hajj Malley” points to the four prisoners, while Sanaa, Beirut and Damascus are under the control of Iranian militias and Baghdad is fighting the Iranian blockade and Tehran’s proxies?

Is it logical for “Hajj Malley” to say a nuclear agreement with Iran cannot be completed because of the four prisoners, while Iranian ballistic missiles and drones threaten the security of Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Iraq, and others?

This is unbelievable, and can only be explained politically by inability and failure. I will not describe it as a desire to provoke, but rather recklessness in every sense of the word.

Someone might argue that “Hajj Malley” is in charge of serving American interests. This is true, but the security of the region falls within US interests. The simplest example is the Houthis’ targeting of Al Dhafra base in Abu Dhabi, where around 2,000 US soldiers are stationed. The US approach in the Vienna negotiations does neither serve Washington’s interests, nor does it enjoy the support of all members of the US negotiating team there.

Recently, The Wall Street Journal revealed differences within the US delegation, forcing a senior member of the negotiating team, deputy US envoy to Iran Richard Nephew, to leave his post.

Accordingly, the objection to the US approach in Vienna - specifically the stance of “Hajj Malley” - came from the deputy US special envoy to Iran, and no one else!

Therefore, the US failure to deal with Iran is not a matter of point of view. It is rather dangerous because it opens the door to nuclear armament in the region, and threatens maritime security, and the security and stability of all neighboring countries.

Failure to deal with Iran portends the collapse of the Iraqi project to build a state of law, the fall of Lebanon, the disappearance of what remains of Syria, and the burning of Yemen, which means igniting sectarian wars that will be catastrophic for the region and Europe in terms of refugees, and more.

This approach also threatens the security of countries that are key for stability in the region, specifically Saudi Arabia and the UAE. No one has any interest in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi fighting wars that will affect the entire region and the international economy.

“Hajj Malley’s” statement is provocative, and does not reflect a trustworthy political vision.

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