An interesting passage from an article in yesterday’s New York Times about the Arab world’s increasing apprehension over the possibility of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon:
Among Iran’s Persian Gulf neighbors there is growing resignation that Iran cannot be stopped from developing nuclear arms, though Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful uses. Some analysts have predicted that a regional arms race will begin and that vulnerable states, like Bahrain, may be encouraged to invite nuclear powers to place weapons on their territories as a deterrent. The United States already has a Navy base in Manama, Bahrain’s capital.
“I think the gulf states are well advised now to develop strategies on the assumption that Iran is about to become a nuclear power,” said Abdul Khaleq Abdullah, a political science professor at United Arab Emirates University. “It’s a whole new ballgame. Iran is forcing everyone in the region now into an arms race.”
This realization, in turn, is raising new anxieties and shaking old assumptions.
Writing in the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi, for instance, the editor, Abdel-Beri Atwan, said that with recent developments “the Arab regimes, and the gulf ones in particular, will find themselves part of a new alliance against Iran alongside Israel.”
The head of a prominent research center in Dubai said that it might even be better if the West — or Israel — staged a military strike on Iran, rather than letting it emerge as a nuclear power. That kind of talk from Arabs was nearly unheard of before the revelation of the second enrichment plant, and while still rare, it reflects growing alarm.
“Israel can start the attack but they can’t sustain it; the United States can start it and sustain it,” said Abdulaziz Sager, a Saudi businessman and former diplomat who is chairman of the Gulf Research Center in the United Arab Emirates. “The region can live with a limited retaliation from Iran better than living with a permanent nuclear deterrent. I favor getting the job done now instead of living the rest of my life with a nuclear hegemony in the region that Iran would like to impose.”
Think about that.
Arabs are openly talking about backing Israel and the United States in a confrontation with Iran. That’s both a measure of just how destabilizing an Iranian nuclear weapon would be to the region and of the fact that even a half-century of hatred can be put aside when survival is at stake.