by Dr. Mordechai Kedar
Behavioral science recognizes two types of responses to tense or threatening situations facing loosely-connected groups. The first is characterized by the group uniting under a charismatic leader who radiates power, wisdom, organizational acumen and the ability to protect his followers, after which the group forms a united front and prepares for a struggle against the looming threat. The opposite occurs when there is no leader to be found. In the resulting mayhem, members betray one another, and attempt to escape and go over to the other side in order to save themselves. In that case, they could not care less if the rest of the group goes to hell.
The only conclusion Israel must reach from the sad state of affairs in the Arab Sunni world is as clear as the sunshine in an arid desert.
The second of the two possible scenarios is an exact description of the current situation in the Arab world where Iran has become a major threat. After years of trying to extend the scope of its control over the Arab nations, it is moving towards exerting hegemony over the entire Islamic world. This entails reestablishing Shiite rule over Islam's holy sites – starting with Mecca and Medina – eliminating the opposition – starting with the Saudi royal family – destroying Israel and becoming a permanent threat to the Christian West, the latter seen by the Ayatollahs as merely the servant of Shiite believers.
When the two major world powers joined forces to empower the Ayatollah's regime, the Iranian threat grew by leaps and bounds. Under Obama, US actions strengthened Iran, allowed it to develop nuclear weapons (that is the real meaning of the 2015 Agreement), ignored its ballistic rocket development program, handed it money and allowed it to sign lucrative contracts – all the while ignoring Iran's involvement in local wars and its support for world terror.
Russia has been a partner of the Iranians for years through a complex array of agreements and joint initiatives: it supplied nuclear power stations for electricity production, thereby granting the Iranians the ability to acquire knowledge and experience in nuclear science, handed over its rocket technology, worked with Iran to regulate the world natural gas market (Russia, Iran and Qatar are the three largest gas suppliers in the world) and joined forces with Iran in the horrific war taking place on Syrian land in an attempt to save the Butcher of Damascus' regime.
The European Union joined the US and Russia, encouraging its members to enter the lucrative Iranian contract-signing queue. Truthfully, a good number of European countries already had a history of ignoring the economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the West, so that the change was not that discernable. US Intelligence knew exactly what was going on, but said nothing – or to be more accurate, was silenced by the Obama government.
Other economic giants took part in the Iran festival: China never quite understood why it should limit is economic ties to Iran, nor did India find it a problem to maintain wide ranging business interests in the country.
The Arab world, from Iraq in the East to Morocco in the West, Syria in the north and Yemen in the south, has been noting the growing Shiite advance with undisguised apprehension. Sunni Muslim nations such as Turkey and Pakistan – and in fact, all the Sunni Muslims– are just as anxious, but are reacting to the situation by collapsing and falling apart instead of unifying and working together.
This collapse is internal and external, in each and every country, resulting in endless arguments about how each nation must react to the current state of emergency. The question is whether it is better to act against Iran in some way – economically, politically, militarily- or put an end to the problem by yielding to Iran and saving lives.
Qatar threw in the towel years ago. Iran and Qatar share a gigantic gas field where the produce the gas in partnership and share the similarly gigantic profits. Qatar's behavior infuriates the Saudis beyond description, because Qatar is Arab, Sunni and Wahabee, as is the Saudi royal family, but it has stabbed the Saudis in the back. Saudi furor at Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood and for the shenanigans of al Jazeera are nothing compared to its anger over Qatari cooperation with Iran.
Iraq, once it was freed in 2003 by the US and the West from the dictatorship of its Sunni minority under Saddam Hussein, saw its government handed over to the Shiite majority on a silver platter (made in the West and covered with the blood of US and Western soldiers). It was then caught in the Iranian net, betraying the Sunni Arab world. Iran controls politicians, parties, army officers, militias and industries in Iraq. It thus reestablished the hegemony it had in eastern Mesopotamia before the Arabs defeated the Sassanian Persian Empire's forces at Alkadasia, a city in southern Iraq in 636, between November 13th and 16th, exactly 1381 years ago.
The Persians never forgave the Arabs for this defeat and the Ayatollahs see Iran's takeover of Iraq as an act of historic justice and long-awaited revenge on the Arabs, whom they continue to consider primitive illiterates.
Syria, another Arab state, became an Iranian stooge after being totally destroyed by a blood-soaked civil war that led to the deaths of over half a million mainly Sunni men, women and children, who killed each other so that Shia Islam could annex their land as well. The Iranians owe a debt of gratitude to the Russian and Christian unbelievers who did the dirty work of eliminating the opposition, down to its women and children.
Lebanon, another Arab country with a large Shiite population, possibly the majority by now, due to its own demographics and the flight of Sunni Muslim, Christians, Druze and Allawites from its borders, has an armed-to-the-teeth militia – Hezbollah – whose fighting strength is greater than that of the Lebanese army. Iran has controlled Lebanon for thirty five years, while the world knew, watched and remained silent.
Yemen, another Arab state with a large Shiite population, was never really united. It was always divided by the different tribal, ethnic and ideological loyalties of its population. That allowed Iran to establish a state within a state with a well-equipped army that took over the capital, exiling the country's president and his government to Saudi Arabia. Iran now threatens international navigation in the Red Sea and the Al Mandeb Straits, essential passages connecting Europe, the Persian Gulf – with its oil and gas – and Eastern Asia, with its merchandise and raw products.
Iran has even infiltrated the Palestinian Authority by supporting the Islamic Jihad and Hamas terror organizations. Erdogan's Turkey, too, has joined the list of countries that do Iran's bidding and try to find favor in its eyes.
Iran has managed to gain control over the entire Muslim east, country by country, this despite the period of tough sanctions imposed by the West, and causing much tension in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the Emirates, Israel and other Mediterranean countries. This tension has a negative effect on the internal workings of these countries, and what we saw happening in Saudi Arabia over the past two weeks is one of the outcomes of that tension.
An acrimonious debate is raging within the Saudi royal family on the way in which the monarchy responded to the Iranian threat in general and on the Iranian takeover of Yemen, a development which poses an immediate threat to the Saudis who have had rockets launched at them before the recent ones. The war in Yemen, like the support for the defeated Syrian rebels, cost the Saudi treasury billions of dollars which if continued, would have left the country on the verge of bankruptcy. The controversy over succession is going on at the same time. Crown prince, Muhammad, son of the reigning monarch Salman, born in 1985, is 32 years old and has no administrative, political or military expertise. There is a slew of much older cousins who have much more experience than he does in theeconomic, administrative and political spheres. In a traditional tribal society, age, experience, maturity and a suitable personality are what turn someone into an accepted and legitimate leader. Muhammad ibn Salman is not acceptable or legitimate in the eyes of many of his cousins. It is quite possible that a putsch is in the making. He, however, won the first round before it began by arresting some and eliminating several others.
There is no doubt that the Iranian pressure on the Saudis leads to instability in the monarchy. That is what is happening in Lebanon, where the airing of the government's internal problems led Al Hariri to resign. The situation in Iraq is also far from tranquil and there are angry arguments raging about continued Iranian interference in the running of the country.
In response to the state of internal and inter-Arab mayhem, the Saudis have called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers, to take place this coming Sunday, November 19th. It is clear to everyone that the Arab League is powerless. This paralytic organization was unable to save a single Syrian, Iraqi, Yemenite, Libyan, Algerian or Sudanese Arab, in all the years of blood soaked civil strife that went on in every one of those countries.
One of the Arab tackbackers wrote sarcastically: "Ho, Persians. Watch out for the flood your enemies, who lay siege on one another and fight constantly among themselves, are going to rain on you. This is the political ignorance that has weakened the Umma." It seems likely that the writer is a Qatari, disparaging the siege the Saudis declared on Qatar several months ago, an act that symbolizes the division among the Sunni nations.
Many Israelis have been encouraging the government to enter into a "Moderate Sunni Nations" accord, because "Israel is not the problem, it is the solution." This call is based on a deep lack of understanding of the Arab way of doing things and complete ignorance about what is really going on in the countries surrounding Israel.
The only conclusion Israel must reach from this sad state of affairs is as clear as the sunshine in an arid desert: There is no one to rely on in the fragmented, splintered Sunni Arab world which is incapable of uniting against the Iranian threat. The Arabs betray one another and some are tied to Iran with every fibre of their beings. Are they really going to be loyal to whatever agreement they make with the Jews? They may ask the Israelis to save them from the clutches of the Iranian monster, but after Israel does that at a high cost in its own sons and daughters, citizens, infrastructure and cities, that "Moderate Sunni Axis" will act towards us, exactly – and I mean exactly – as they did to the Iraqi Kurds after they shed the blood of over a thousand male and female fighters in order to rescue t he Arabs from ISIS. Remember – they threw them and their aspirations for independence straight into the dustbin of petty politics, interests, cynicism and treachery.
Israel's fate will be exactly the same once the Iranian threat has been routed from what is left of the destroyed, bankrupt, lost and divided Arab world. Israel must not pay a plugged nickel in the quest for peace with a world as fragmented as the Arab world. Not one square centimeter of land for a worthless piece of paper containing the word peace. Israel must ask the Arabs one single question: What are you giving us for our agreeing to making peace with you?
The answer is clear: Apart from poverty, hatred, treachery, neglect, cynicism and hypocrisy, the Arab world has nothing to offer Israel, because these are the only commodities it has. Sad, but true. These are Israel's neighbors, and when we Israelis, from our prime minister down to the last of our citizens, begin to understand this, we will be capable of dealing with our neighbors the way we should.
Written for Arutz Sheva, translated by Rochel Sylvetsky
Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University. He served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. Thoroughly familiar with Arab media in real time, he is frequently interviewed on the various news programs in Israel.
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