The mullahs ruling Iran have inadvertently helped Israel by making oil-and-gas-rich Arab Muslim governments more fearful of the Islamic Republic than the Jewish state.
“Iran has taken the mantle from Israel as the regional bogeyman,” says Ali Al-Saffar of the Economist Intelligence Unit.
What popularity Iran had won among Arabs during its sponsorship of the 2007-2008 Hezbollah war with Israel has now disappeared. Supporters of the regime now denounce Saudi Arabia as a “Zionist” kingdom.
Bahrain and Kuwait have recently downgraded their diplomatic relations with Tehran, recalling their ambassadors in light of Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) subversion and espionage, and Kuwait recently sentenced three IRGC agents to death for spying on the emirate and on the United States.
Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia quietly urged the United States to launch a military attack on Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities, according to WikiLeaks revelations of classified US diplomatic correspondence last year.
Now, even Bahraini Shi’a leaders are telling Iran to back off.
And in Iraq, President Nuri Al-Maliki is hearing calls from parliament to sever diplomatic relations with Iran over what one lawmaker calls “Iran’s negative intervention in Iraq.”
The ayatollahs’ over-reaching has finally alienated much of the world, and those who suffered in silence are now becoming more vocal and more openly aligned with the United States.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls the Iranian regime a threat to “peace and stability” in the Gulf region, citing Revolutionary Guard subversion in Kuwait and Bahrain.
“We share the view that Iran’s activities in the Gulf, including its efforts to advance its agenda in the neighbouring countries undermines peace and stability,” Clinton said after Kuwait announced the expulsion of Iranain diplomats and recalled its ambassador from Tehran over Revolutionary Guard espionage against the emirate.
US President Barack Obama has changed his tune visibly toward Iran, no longer calling the regime by its preferred “Islamic Republic” name, and making a Persian New Year address directly to Iran’s young people, telling them, “I am with you.”
Oil-rich Arab countries have long expressed concern about the Iranian regime, but have usually kept their worries behind closed doors. That is no longer so. Recent moves by the Islamic Republic have caused those governments to become more visibly vocal about Iran. The Gulf states are described as fearful of Iranian regime “expansionism” in the region.
Meanwhile, Iran’s diplomatic and economic isolation continues. Nigeria continues to retaliate against Iran diplomatically for the Revolutionary Guards’ secret shipment of weapons to unidentified recipients the West African state last November.
Hong Kong just imposed sanctions on the Tehran regime. Germany is under pressure to stop the Bundesbank from being a pass-through for cash to Iran’s nuclear program. Canada has announced its renewed commitment to continue what it calls its annual “diplomatic” assault on the Islamic Republic at the United Nations. “Canada will continue to take Iran to task for their egregious human rights abuses,” Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said in Ottawa. “We will do this at every opportunity, and in every appropriate forum, including in the General Assembly, until the situation improves dramatically.”
Saudi Arabia lashed out at the Iranian government on March 31, holding it accountable for pro-regime protesters who hurled stones at the Saudi consulate in Mashhad the day before.