Arabs Bracing against Iran

By Saeed Qureshi    

The Arab’s conservative dynastic monarchies are bracing against Iran, an Islamic country with different racial and religious denomination. Four Arab monarchies namely Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, and United Arab Emirates will buy military hardware from the United States by pooling $ 123 billion. The Arab countries are buying this assortment of weapons to counterpoise the Iranian emerging military prowess and its projected ambition to become a nuclear weapon power. Paradoxically, while Iran is working for a nuclear weapon or the attainment of technology, aimed at to countervailing Israel’s threatening military might, the Arabs too feel threatened by the Iranian nuclear ambitions.

Under the massive arms deal, Saudi Arabia will receive 85 new F-15 jet fighters while another 70 of its fleet will be upgraded. But the analysts view this unprecedented shopping spree by these four Arab states as a plausible cover-up to give a boost to the failing American economy especially the aircraft and arms manufacturing industrial complex that would go sluggish after the termination of military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. The military garrisons in these four countries would be primarily maintained by the American and perhaps by Israeli pilots and technical staff. The deal is also interpreted to be hammered out under the American pressure.

The Arab and Ajam’s (non-Arabs, literally meaning dumb)) conflict particularly with Persia or the present day Iran is rooted in the past. Until the battle of “Ziwaqar” that took place during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad, the Arabs remained under the tutelage of the Persian Empire.

Upon the first ever-historic victory against Persia in that battle, the prophet of Islam uttered a stunning remark, “This is the first day that Arab has taken revenge from Ajam.” That was a turning point and a milestone, in the perennially troubled relations between Arabs and the Persians. With this sentence, the prophet whose message of Islam is universal, in a moment of ecstatic triumph proclaimed himself to be an Arab nationalist.

He was indeed mindful of the Arab-Persian centuries’ old conflict and the racial cleavage between the two civilizations. It was during the caliphate of second caliph Omar that, after the battles of Kadessia, Maidan, Jalula, and Nehawand, that the whole of Persia passed under the Muslim domination. The armies of the final Persian emperor Yazd Gard II were conclusively routed in 661 A. D.  

In the post-Islamic era, the main cause of rivalry is not only ethnic but also religious. The Iranians profess the Shia branch of Islamic creed while most of the Arab countries particularly Saudi Arabia are strict Sunnis. The cardinal dispute between Sunnis and Shias is about succession of Prophet Muhammad.

So the Islamic myth if universal unity has always remained in shambles and would remain so until eternity or until the time religions lose their significance. The sublime concept of Muslim fraternity that has been touted so frequently and so profusely by word of mouth by Muslim clerics, stressed in the holy book Qur’an and in the verbal sayings of the prophet of Islam, received its first jolt upon the assassination of the third caliph of Islam Hazrat Osman. Thereafter, the Muslim nation was clearly divided into two distinct clans: one of Banu Ommeyades and the other Banu Hashim both vying for caliphate.

This clannish rivalry was always simmering underneath, over the question of succession to the prophet Muhammad. Upon the demise of prophet, the cousin brother and son in law of the prophet had laid a claim to be the successor by virtue of the blood descent, which meant the tribe of Banu Hashim to which the prophet belonged. It erupted into full-blown feud after the murder of the third caliph Hazrat Osman a notable scion of Ommeyades.

Although till that time it was a common faith with no sectarian division but the ensuing battles raging for several years between the fourth caliph Hazrat Ali and Ummyad governor Amir Muawiyah led to a distinct and widening gulf between what was later called as Shias and those as Sunnis. This sectarian schism further snowballed with the time passage although the Ommeyade and Abbasid caliphs, though being heads of Islamic state, were secular, mundane, and ruthless. The massacre of Hazrat Ali’s son Hussain and his family at the desert of Karbala near Baghdad resulted into a group of supporters than later came to be known as Shias. The Shias all along believed that succession of Prophet Muhammad went to the wrong persons, which in fact should have been given to Ali and his successors for belonging to the family of prophet.

Since Hussain’s wife Shahr Banu was the daughter of the last Persian emperors Yazd Gard II, the Shias had developed a close affinity and blood relationship with Persians, who later embraced   Shia Islam. The eighth Imam of Shias Imam Ali Reza, a descendent of Banu Hashim and having the blood of the fourth caliph Hazrat Ali and his progeny in his veins, is buried in Iran. The Shrine of Imam Ali Reza is situated in the Mashhad city of Iran and is visited by 15 to 20 million devotees and pilgrims every year. It nurtures and sustains the spiritual fervor of Shia faithfuls besides assuming the symbol of Shia divinity attributed to their Imams.

So Islamic Ummah (nation) is clearly divided into two theological schools: the Sunni brand spearheaded by Saudi Arabia and the Shia brand led by Iran. Ideologically poles apart and adversaries for centuries there is no possibility that they can develop consensus on one code of Islam. To great extent, this is akin to the sharp theological division in the Christianity between Catholics and the Protests, notwithstanding their further split into countless denominations in Christendom.

The religious rivalry has its spillover in politics also. The Saudis would never relinquish their leadership of the Sunnis sect, which is around 80 per cent of the Muslims population. Likewise Iran the majority country with over 90 percent Shias would never compromise over her faith, national solidarity, and cohesion based on one religion and one language. Therefore, there is one Islam with two drastically and irreconcilably divergent interpretations or schools of Islamic theology. The virulent degree of antagonism between Arabs and the Persians (present day Iranians) stems not only from the unbridgeable religious chasm but also from the racial incongruity.

As such, the purchase of armament by these four Arab countries is a spillover of the rivalry from ancient to the present times. Israel, the Arabs, and United States are under the dangling specter of Iranophobia. The super duper arms deal is aimed at countering Tehran’s growing influence in the region. The Arab countries particularly Saudi Arabia fear that a militarily strong and nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat to their ideological leadership and territorial integrity.

In this framework of fear and phobia, otherwise from a member of Islamic fraternity, the dogma of Muslim unity repeatedly emphasized in the holy book Quran is rendered meaningless, save its rhetorical import. These four Muslim countries are ready to stand on the side of Israel, an inveterate enemy of Muslims, in opposing and even destroying Iran. As such, the regional, racial, and parochial priorities, Arab nationalism, and psyche have overshadowed the religious unity as variously emphasized in Quran. One of the verses exhorts the Muslims “And hold fast all together by the rope of Allah and be not divided among yourselves ;( Verse 013, Al-i-Imran).

Saddam Hussain too had tried to annihilate Iran at the outset of the clerical regime but had to enter into a ceasefire due to tenacity and fighting spirit of the Iranians against a foreign threat to their survival. It is therefore, doubtful that despite equipping themselves up to the teeth with arms and ammunition, the Arabs have the muscle and will to fight Iran. It is another scenario if the America and Israel wage a proxy war on behalf of Arab countries. But keeping in view the dismal outcome of American and NATO wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is hypothetical to surmise if the Iranians would ever be subdued by Arabs and their allies.

(The writer is a Dallas-based freelance journalist and a former diplomat writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan and the United States).

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  • Shaheen Atiq ur Rehman  On September 27, 2010 at 11:01 am

    best…Muslim’s kill Muslim’s…..foolish us!

  • FM  On September 27, 2010 at 11:02 am

    This is an old theme developed on the instigation of USA and UK in 80s. First time Iran was declared dreadful for UAE and an Electronic warning system was assessed for UAE.(then came Iraq) The beneficiaries were Advisor Countries. They keep planing to keep these countries under control by showing to neighbouring Countries of Iran as a monster. Strangely SA has no borders with Iran to be threatened but on Shia score SA is convinced that Iran will eat them up. This is how USA controls SA and a reasonable National income is spent which benefits USA directly.
    They created Hysteria and want to keep it alive for their own interest.
    Such articles can be paid ones to keep the momentum going. Ostensibly USA threatens to attack Iran but at the same time this public opinion mending effort is on by US think tanks.
    There is no dearth of paid writers around the globe of all types.
    SA has promoted Terrorism and which is proving a bad brand name for Islam too. Are we not serving the cause of Non Muslims by promoting hate amongst major Muslim Countries?
    I leave the thought with you. I also know how the threat was developed in 80s when UAE had practically fallen to zero in every walk of life and deserted look was in the making.

    • Brig Latif  On September 27, 2010 at 2:41 pm

      Agreed hundred percent.

  • Naeem  On September 27, 2010 at 11:03 am

    In my opinion this so called Arab fear of Iran is totally an American propaganda.There is NO evidence of Iran having ANY designs against the Arab countries. Iran has so much natural wealth that it does not need to eye its neighbours.Flushed with UNMANAGEABLE cash it is NOT surprising that these Arab countries are trying to boost their arsenal and buying sophisticated military equipment.I think Saeed should visit the region and write a sequel to this article.

  • Admiral Iftikhar A. Sirohey  On September 27, 2010 at 11:03 am

    US has to sell arms


  • Brig Latif  On September 27, 2010 at 11:04 am

    How tragic that these Arab countries are going to spend 123 bn US$ on purchase of weapons from America in order to prepare for a war against another Muslim country, Iran…!
    And on top of it how tragic it is that these Arab countries are ready to stand by Israel in her plans to destroy Iran….!

    Looks they haven’t learnt anything from the Quranic teachings about unity of the Umma and about relationships with Yahood-o-Nisara. And looks they haven’t learnt any lesson from decades of suffering at the hands of the enemies of Islam.

    However, if they are wise enough, I would advise them NOT to take punga with Iran because then they will have to once again call America to stop her from over running them. Israel alone will not be able to save them.

  • Bashir Syed  On September 27, 2010 at 11:05 am

    I am a retired physicist, but during 1980’s I was hired by Gemneral Electric Company’s Electronic Systems Department (now defunct and no trace left) in Utica, NY. where in the beginning I taught VLSIC Desifgn & Fabrication to GE Engineers to get them out of the Vacuum Tube Era and bring them to Solid State Electronics related to Air-Force and Navy projects (Avionics and Radar Systems), after two years my job shifted to teaching Monolithic Microwave IC Technology realted to same applications, and my last job was serve on an Industrial Cooperative Working Group to enact the new Mil-Standard (current Mil-Perf-38534 & 38535] where I had extensive contact with Air-Force Folks upto higher levels. Just before the Gulf War and Operation Desert Storm, we knew how the temp[o was building up for exporting weapons for future OPerations in the Mid-East and other Muslim countries. But in 1990, my job shifted to support the NASA’s International Space Station, MARS and other associated programs (space Shuttle) protecting the Electronics and Humans from Space Radiation. But after retirement in 2002, I got involved in applying my knowledge in Solar & Wind Energy as an entrepreneur and Educator. Being a member of several organizations I came across an unusual publication, “The Houston Environmemntal Directory 2007, edited and produced by Paul Robins, which is posted on the web as a 30-page document in PDF format. The most informative part of this document is titled as “PETROLISTAN: Oil and War,” at which has two maps of this region called Petrolistan: (1) MILITARY STRATEGY IN PETROLISTAN – A Dagerous World, depicting the new Military Bases acquired by U.S. as Protector of Arabs (against the admionition in Quran), and (2) MOVING OIL ANDF GAS IN DANGEROUS PLACES, which explains the need for future plans to counter the moves by OPEC in order to use OIL as a weapon as mentioned by Ahmed ZAki Yemeni, in 1973, bringing the Oil Embargo announced by King Faisal. The immediate result was the design of assassination of King Faisal by his nephew, and bringing down Ahmed Zaki Yemeni. Since that day, the drum beat of IRAN as a big monster for Arabs was begun, and sale of large quantities of weapons sold to all Arab satates in the Gulf to bring Petro-Dollars back home, and to create armament warehouses in these new bases for future killing expeditions, unleashing Armageddon as foreseen by Israel.
    The other part (Economic Part) of the story is narrated by John Perkins in his famous book, “Confessions of an ECONOMIC HIT MAN,” published by Penguin Group, NY in 2004.

    • Munir Varraich  On September 27, 2010 at 9:00 pm

      Most of us are a witness to this part of history. The articles and books referred to are by western writers. If you are in the know of any Pakistani writer covering that period and with their views and opinions on these subjects, please educate the readers.


  • Rauf  On September 27, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Brig. Latif and FM

    When the brains located below the belly button, then such things could be expected.

    Very obvious, Americans are hyping up war hysteria between Arabs and Iran.
    The same thing they did earlier on and let loose Iraq (Saddam) against Iran. When his
    (Saddam) utility was over he was eliminated for having WMD (which he never had)
    Arabs do not learn from their own mistakes made in the past. So are we (Muslim

    The funny thing is that, while Israelis are going Scott free of all the atrocities committed
    the best Arabs could do is call up a emergency meeting and pass a resolution or two.
    They never dare to put pressure on the bigger evil at any time

    • Ayesha Khan  On September 28, 2010 at 4:20 am

      Divide and rule, reigns supreme, history repeating itself

  • Sqib Awan  On September 27, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Sunnies in KSA do not consider Shiats as Muslims, so they don’t have a problem going into war against Iran.

    It’s a matter of perception!

  • mian saleem  On September 27, 2010 at 11:10 am

    “I dont think these Arab countries are buying armaments for $123B because they are not capable to operate this high tec machinery. It must be the US forcing them to make an announcement and then transfer the amount to US treasury, just to make up the budget deficit. WE must understand these Arab rulers are planted there to look after the oil wells as ‘Chokidars’. For which they are being called as Shaikhs etc. and paid by US for their services, therefore these Shaikhs have to carry out the orders of their master…. US.”

  • Rahim Gul  On September 27, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    very informative and thought provoking however circumstantial evidences paint different picture. No doubt for enemy of Islam or Muslims, loss to any side will be a good news but history has shown that Arabs have always been the first target of enemies of Islam as they were its founders and custodians. Soon after prophet Mohammad(PBUH) this conspiracy against Islam has started otherwise in message of Islam personalities had little importance before the grand universal message for all human beings and Prophet had clarified that neither Arabs are superior to Ajam nor Ajam are superior to Arabs only virtuous and pious are near to God. Hazrat Ali in person had been the most significant part of the Caliphate and had strong influence during all three Caliphates. This mean this division between Shias and Sunnis is in fact a conspiracy against the universal status of Islam. Shias, being in minority, have always enjoyed indirect support from anti Islamic forces in the world as by this way they can directly hit at Islam. America knew that by introducing democracy in Iraq, the political power is shifted to Shias and thus both Shia states, with strong financial and military capability can divide Islam in two different sects so that the concept of one umma could not be shaped. We see that Iran had been a silent partner in Iraq and Afghanistan invasions and during Iran Iraq war Iran had got weapon supply from Israeel. SO it is indeed a very complex issue and greatest conspiracy against both sects and Islam.

  • Saeed Qureshi  On September 27, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    I am inclined to agree with most of the comments of the learned viewers on the subject matter that has bedeviled the Muslim nation all these 1400 years. No one can deny that the unbridgeable cleavage in Islam between two rival and adversarial sects has wrought havoc on the monolithic unity of the Muslim Ummah a call that was at the root of Islamic faith.
    One of the monstrous manifestations of this sordid divide was the attack by Mongols hordes over Baghdad because of a feud between the caliph Mustaasim and his Shia vizier Mohammad bin al-Kami over demolishing of suburb of Karkh. After a riot between Sunnis and Shias, the caliph gave an order to demolish the place and reduce Shias to slavery. The vizier was grieved and invited the Tartars to come to Baghdad, (Syed Amir Ali-History of the Saracens). Imagine the destruction and ruination that followed. Baghdad was literally razed to the ground. Out of 2 million population of Baghdad 1.6 million perished.
    There are countless such happenings that caused the Muslims great sufferings and kept their unity always at tenterhooks. Let us also consider the case of Sharif Hussain of Mecca. He sided with British imperialist forces during the First World War against the Ottoman caliphs because they were Turk by ethnicity and because Arabs thought the caliphate was usurped by non-Arabs. As a consequence, he refused to issue a Fatwa in favor of Turks resulting the ensuing humiliation of Turks.
    During the 1857 war of liberation that was carried out jointly by Hindus and Muslim faithful over the greased cartridges, inhuman treatment of the white soldiers and low wages, the mutineers or the freedom fighters were besieged at Delhi’s Red Fort by Muslims from NWFP, Punjab and Baluchistan along with white soldiers. They were more barbaric to their fellow faithful than the whites and Sikhs. In Bengal Shujuddola was betrayed by his head of the army Mir Jaffar and in Deccan, the valorous Tipu Sultan by his commander of the troops Mir Sadiq. Both Deccan and Bengal passed on under the colonial domination due to the treachery of these two individuals.
    The list is endless. Therefore, my point is that Muslim unity has always been a myth and yet the most sought- after religious decree. Muslims are steeped in sectarianism and that is gnawing at the very roots and foundations of the Islamic fraternity. The answer is a secular set of government that allows all shaded and sects of religious denominations to be fee to practice their own traditions and beliefs.

  • Munir Varraich  On September 27, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    Saeed Qureshi has brought up a very interesting subject – the myth of Muslim Unity.

    He has also quoted Quranic injuction to the Muslims to remain united. However, that “unity” could last only 71 years – which has been mentioned in the “numerical code” of “Alif Laam Meem” of Sur Baqraa. The division commenced after 71 years of “hijrat”

    Thereafter another process was initiated. That is also given in the Quran, “we have created everything in pairs” – due to which all type of evolution takes place. Human Beings are also governed by the same laws. This creature traverses from material state, to moral state, and then to the spiritual state. Every revealed Religion, including Islam is also governed by the same Law. Because every religion is manifested through this creature – the human being.

    Another Law also mentioned in the Quran is that every created thing decays over a period of time. So on the one side, while the thought process of the human being evolutes to higher level because of division (interacts as a pair, causing the genetic evolvement), on the other hand “religion” as such traverses towards its decay. This movement of “human thought evoluting to a higher level” and at the same instant “the setting in of decay in the Message” forms the “pair” so essential to the evolutionary process. Imagine if the Revealed Message did not get distorted after the lapse of “time”, there would not have been any evolution in the Human Thought.

    At that stage, and this comes under the attribute of “RAB-UL-AAlameen” of the Creator – the One who sustains the creation, the thought process is given an injection in the form of a “revelation”. A prophet comes to push the thought process to a still higher level, by re-establishing the “Concept of Absolute Morality”. That is the essential vehicle, the essential instrument, the engine, which lifts up the human being from the level which he had attained. The spiral movement of multidirectional evolution goes on, carrying the human consciousness along with it towards higher and higher level of existance.

    Islam is no different than any other message and Muslims are no different than any other followers – all human beings, with the same human nature, being effected by the same Laws which has been set in motion by the Creator.

    What we witness today, of which Saeed Qureshi has mentioned is civilizational push and pull, with its own dynamics. Beyond this, the human consciouness is evolving to create a Universal Civilization of the Humankind. Which of the civilization is best equipped to move towards “the Concept of Absolute Morality” will depend which of the civilization has been able to understand the deeper meanings in the “Last Revealed Manual for the Human Being” and whether the essential impetus which is needed at this juncture of Humankind history, has been injected.

    If Toynbee could decipher that and Huntington could point towards that, then surely other peoples of the world are becoming conscious of that. Hopefully the Muslim Mind would catch up sooner than later.

    I do not know about Arabs or Iranians, but surely here in the Land of Indus, the seeds of a Universal Civilization have been sown. That is the good news for Pakistan and the world.


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