By Arab News
By Tariq Alhomayed
This statement was not issued by a Gulf official — whether Saudi or Emirati — or even a Western official, nor is it part of comments made by a liberal or sectarian writer, rather what we have here is a statement issued by one of the most prominent faces of the Khomeinist revolution, indeed one of the major founders of the Republic of Iran; Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
During an interview with the “Intentional Studies” journal, former Iranian President Rafsanjani, who is currently chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council, asked “if we had good relations with Saudi Arabia, would the West have been able to impose sanctions (on Iran’s oil)?” adding “only Saudi Arabia could fill the void left by Iran. (All they need to do is) produce oil within their OPEC quota, and then no one would be able to harass us.” Rafsanjani also said: “I think it is still possible to form good relations with Riyadh” criticizing those who issued “harsh” statements about Saudi Arabia without thinking about the consequences of this! These are the words of a former Iranian president, and not a news analyst or a sectarian editorial writer.
So what is the response of all those who were, and remain, critical of those who warn against Iran?
What is their justification, when Rafsanjani himself is today saying that Saudi Arabia would have been Iran’s sole savior were it not for the presence of hard-liners in Tehran who sought to provoke Riyadh? We are not talking about media provocations, as Saudi Arabia is far too big for this, rather we are talking about provoking Saudi Arabia by targeting its security, as well as the security of the entire region, from Bahrain to Lebanon, from Iraq to Syria. So what is the response of this regional fifth column that exists within Saudi Arabia itself, as well as the rest of the Arab Gulf, not to mention Egypt and Lebanon? What is the response of this fifth column, whose most prominent member is Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, to this?
What is their response when Rafsanjani himself is saying that if Iran had not antagonized Saudi Arabia, Tehran would have been in a better position today? Will they be more Iranian than the Iranians themselves, or more Rafsanjanian than Rafsanjani himself, who is one of the founders of Khomeinist Iran, and a former president, as well as chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council? It is unfortunate that the Iranian fifth column is prevalent throughout our region, including in Saudi Arabia; they are present in our newspapers and Internet websites, writing about Iran in a superficial manner that is no less superficial than the slogan “the people and the army are one hand,” saying that “it is not in our interests to antagonize Iran.” However this is the same Iran that supports Assad, who has killed more than 10,000 Syrians today; as well as sponsoring sectarianism in Bahrain, backing Hezbollah, which occupied the Sunni areas of Beirut, and even supporting the Houthi rebels, who launched a war against Saudi Arabia. This is the same Iran that supports Nuri Al-Maliki, who for his part is marginalizing half the Iraqi people, and defending Assad saying “the (Assad) regime did not fall, and it will not fall, and why should it fall?”
What will they say after Rafsanjani’s comments, which they cannot support, for it is clear that the Iranian Supreme Leader renewed Rafsanjani’s chairmanship of the Expediency Discernment Council in the hopes that he would build bridges with Saudi Arabia once more, in the same manner that he — like Khatami – did in the past. This is something that was marred by Tehran’s hard-liners who relished antagonizing Saudi Arabia, and the entire region, despite all of Saudi Arabia’s good intention, even from King Abdullah personally.
Therefore, the question that must be asked here is: Will the fifth column in our region and particularly Saudi Arabia, be silenced, or will they continue falsifying the facts?
The author is editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Write to him at [email protected]