Friday, May 18, 2007

Gulf: Iran's the Enemy, America's OK
By Bashir Goth
It is human nature for disadvantaged people to hate anybody with absolute power or unlimited wealth. America has both absolute power and unlimited wealth. It may, however, be the U.S.’s foreign policy and muscle flexing which attract the wrath, rather than its wealth or power per se.

In the Arab world, Palestine is the predominant issue that has shaped the Arab view of the outside world. America was therefore always painted as the enemy due to its enduring support for the state of Israel. Arab nationalists supported by the religious establishment never failed to use every opportunity to accuse America of being the source of everything wrong with the Arab world, from Israel’s occupation of Palestine to Hollywood’s invasion of Arab culture, even the pathetic state of education in Arab schools.

Traditionally it is from the mosque’s pulpit that most of the public agitation against America originates. Earlier it was the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and later the ayatollahs of Iran who painted America as the Great Satan. The latest developments in Afghanistan and Iraq have just added fuel to fire.

Despite this negative image, America always maintained good friends in the Arab world with the petrodollar Gulf countries, as well as Egypt and Jordan acting as custodians of the Arab-American friendship. This is why Islamic extremists led by Al Qaeda view the leaders of these countries as traitors of the Arab and Islamic cause.

Regardless of the rhetoric in the media, the Arab political landscape has taken a seismic shift since 9/11 and the emergence of Al Qaeda. A new Arab powerhouse led by the house of Saud and the other wealthy Gulf countries, traditional friends of America, have taken the reins of regional leadership. The new, young and educated leaders of these countries, which rely on America for their prosperity and protection, have learned to masterfully play the global political game. It is through them and the thousands of youth graduating from American affiliated universities, plus the overwhelming Hollywood influence and the power of the Internet in the Gulf countries that have watered down the impulsive traditional animosity. The ugly fratricide taking place in Iraq and the senseless factional fighting in Palestine have also shown the bankruptcy of the nationalist-Islamist philosophy that claims America as the cause of all evil in the region. It is indeed Iran, with its growing influence and ambitious nuclear programs, rather than America that is viewed as the enemy by Arab Gulf countries.

It is therefore safe to say that with a little more foresight, more sensitive and humanistic foreign policy and less saber rattling, America is guaranteed a long-lasting friendship in the Arab world. Newsweek.Washington Post/Postglobal

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