The Arabs are saying that they have lost confidence in the Biden administration because its policies will lead to disastrous results.
By Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute
As the European Union is trying to revive the stalled talks on restoring Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, many Arabs are again warning the Biden administration against rushing to strike a deal with the mullahs, saying this could jeopardize Washington’s relations with its Arab allies in the Middle East.
The Arabs are saying that they cannot understand why Biden is prepared to allow Iran’s mullahs to “humiliate” the U.S. by setting their own conditions for restoring the nuclear agreement, including the demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the list of terrorist organizations.
The Arabs are also reminding the Biden administration and the other world powers that Iran’s mullahs have not changed their dangerous policies that threaten the security and stability of a number of Arab countries.
Iraqi writer Farouk Yousef pointed out that after the U.S. gave Iran $90 billion following the signing of the nuclear agreement with the Obama administration in 2015, the mullahs continued to support, finance and sponsor the activities of “evil forces” in the Middle East.
The “evil forces” refers to Iran’s terrorist proxies, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, and the Houthi militia in Yemen.
Yousef noted that the bulk of the money Iran received from the Obama administration was spent on terrorist groups run by the IRGC in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as terrorist groups run covertly in other Arab countries.
“It’s clear that the administration of Joe Biden wants to sign the nuclear agreement with Iran at any cost,” Yousef said.
‘Iran is humiliating the US administration’
“However, Iran, which is the beneficiary of that agreement in all cases, has been procrastinating and extending time in an attempt to impose new conditions to get more gains. The question is: Don’t the Americans realize that Iran, with its current ideological system, can only be a state outside international law in all its manifestations and meanings?” Yousef asked.
“Iran, which has supported terrorism in the region, will not abandon its militias. Iran cannot accept being a normal country. It will always be a source of chaos and damage to the stability and security of many countries in the region through its direct intervention in the internal affairs of these countries,” he added.
Yousef warned that submission to the mullahs and appeasing them would mean that the U.S. has given up its friendship with America’s traditional allies in the Arab world. It would also plunge the entire Middle East into more anarchy and instability, he cautioned.
“Reviving the nuclear agreement without imposing conditions on Iran that limit its expansionist and aggressive policy and its permanent interference in the internal affairs of the countries of the region would mean that the U.S. has decided to forfeit the friendship of those countries… It also means pushing the region towards chaos.”
Yousef expressed concern that Iran seems to be dictating its conditions to the U.S. administration, “which appears to be submissive to all Iranian conditions, including those related to its continued hegemony over four Arab countries [Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen] and its interference in the affairs of other Arab countries.”
Iran, he added, is “humiliating” the U.S. administration by trying to delay the signing of the nuclear agreement so that the mullahs succeed in forcing the Biden administration to accept all their demands, especially the removal of the IRGC from the list of foreign terrorist organizations.
‘A false beginning cannot lead to a correct ending’
Another prominent Iraqi writer, Ali Al-Sarraf, pointed out that there is a clear majority in Congress that tells Biden that he took the wrong path in dealing with Iran.
“This majority has reminded Biden of what he should have paid attention to but decided to ignore,” Al-Sarraf wrote.
“A false beginning cannot lead to a correct ending. Biden was not ignorant of the wrong way he started [dealing with Iran]. All the countries in the region were telling him that the resumption of talks with Iran must include Iran’s missile program and its destabilizing activities in the region, including the activities of its militias that threaten stability in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen,” Al-Sarraf said.
“Biden chose not to listen to his country’s allies, including Israel. He refused to consider the reservations of America’s allies. That is why America’s allies don’t trust him. They don’t trust Biden because he is committing a serious strategic mistake that threatens the interests and influence of the U.S. and the interests and security of its allies,” he added.
Al-Sarraf added that Biden could have told the mullahs that a return to the nuclear agreement would take place on the basis of three conditions: abandoning violations of the commitments in that agreement, curbing Iran’s ballistic missile program because it is an integral part of the threat, and stopping the actions of militias that threaten the security and stability of the countries of the region.
He, too, expressed concern over the possibility that the Biden administration would remove Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the list of terrorist organizations.
The IRGC, Al-Sarraf noted, is directly involved in the civil war and violence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
“Worse, the Revolutionary Guard has turned these countries into victims of corruption and economic and security failure… They have also made tens of millions of the people in these countries who face the hardships of daily life in its most extreme forms and fall victim to the emergence of terrorist organizations,” he said.
Like many Arabs, Al-Sarraf asked why the Biden administration was not defending the interests of America’s allies.
“The U.S., while looking after its interests in the region and maintaining a large military presence there, should consider the Iranian threats, and even make these threats the most important issue… But Biden’s administration chose, from the outset, to ignore the Iranian threats and embark on the path of negotiating with Iran over the nuclear deal,” Al Sarraf stressed.
Even if Biden chooses to ignore everyone and sign the agreement, he cannot later claim that he did not know the price. Biden will not be able to convince his allies in the region that he has reached a good deal. Iran’s own actions will prove to him that he took the wrong path,” he added.
Lebanese writer Rajeh El Khoury said that he shared the view that the mullahs were trying to gain more time before returning to the negotiations over the signing of a new nuclear agreement.
He also noted that Biden appears to be in a hurry to strike a deal with the mullahs because of the growing opposition he is facing at home. “It’s strange that the Biden administration is rushing to reach a deal with the Iranians at any cost,” he said.
El Khoury pointed out that even as the nuclear talks were underway in Vienna over the past year, Iran continued to meddle in the internal affairs of the Arab countries and endanger the security and stability of America’s allies in the Middle East.
‘From Obama to Biden, nothing has changed’
Veteran Lebanese journalist Kheirallah Kheirallah described the current U.S. policy in the Middle East as “defective.”
This policy, he wrote, “has encouraged Iran to go far in threatening the countries of the region and their security with the help of the Revolutionary Guards.”
“To put it more clearly, there is no sane person in the region willing to take seriously any reassuring words issued by [U.S. Special Envoy for Iran] Robert Malley and other officials in the U.S. administration concerned with the Iranian file,” Kheirallah said.
Every child now knows that these American officials have nothing but flattery for Iran, especially in light of the cold American reaction to the attacks it carried out against the Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” he added.
From Barack Obama to Joe Biden, Kheirallah wrote, nothing has changed in Washington. “If anything has changed, it is for the worse.”
“The slogan raised in Washington remains that the Iranian nuclear file overshadows all crises in the Middle East and the Gulf and that this file has nothing to do with the practices of the Islamic Republic in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen,” he stressed.
“How can such an administration, which has abandoned its allies, including Saudi Arabia, succeed in responding to Vladimir Putin in Ukraine? How can a U.S. administration gain the trust of its allies despite its refusal to take note that northern Yemen has become a base for Iranian missiles and drones?” Kheirallah asked.
“These missiles and drones are directed at the Arab Gulf states and are now threatening navigation in the Red Sea as well. The Biden administration failed the Ukrainian test. The tragedy is that it does not want to admit this and does not want to know why its allies do not trust it anymore,” he added.
Emirati political analyst Salem Alketbi wrote that he, also, was worried about the collapse of the strategic partnership between the U.S. and its Arab allies.
Alketbi pointed out that the Biden administration made a mistake when it removed the Houthis from the list of terrorist organizations because that only increased tensions in Yemen and the rest of the region.
“The decision did not serve the interests of the U.S… It would be a mistake to remove the Revolutionary Guard from the list of terrorist organizations because it will lead to the same catastrophic results, will be costly for the Americans and lead to the collapse of U.S. relations with strategic partners in the Gulf.”
Alketbi advised the Biden administration to conduct a “comprehensive review” of its role and policies in the Middle East in order to address the mistakes and not to add to them by committing new ones. “What is needed is not a step that deepens the dispute with the allies, but steps to restore confidence and bridge the gaps.”
Arab concerns should sound an alarm bell
The concerns expressed by the Arabs over the policies of the Biden administration towards Iran and Washington’s Arab allies should sound a loud alarm bell in the U.S.
The Arabs are saying that they have lost confidence in the Biden administration because its policies will lead to disastrous results and endanger the security and stability of several Arab countries.
It is clear that the Arabs see Iran as the main threat, by far, to their security.
It is also clear that a return to the nuclear agreement and the removal of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the list of terrorist organizations would cause massive damage to the interests of the U.S. It will lose all its Arab friends, who will stop working with the Americans in several fields, including the war on terrorism.
It now remains to be seen whether the Biden administration will continue with its benighted policy of appeasing the mullahs or heed the insistent wake-up calls of America’s real allies.