What the Media Does Not Say About the Anti-Iran Leaks

The most intensely debated documents released by WikiLeaks last week were about what some of the Arab rulers think of Iran and its nuclear program. According to the documents, many of the Arab leaders have been privately urging the United States to attack Iran while publicly claiming that they oppose such attack. In an April 2008 cable, Adel A. al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S., is quoted regarding Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and his “frequent exhortations to the U.S. to attack Iran and thus put an end to its nuclear weapon program,” urging the U.S. “to cut off the head of the snake.” United Arab Emirates (UAE) Defense Minister Prince Mohammed bin Zayed is quoted in a July 2009 memo as saying that “[Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad is Hitler” and urging the U.S. not to “appease” Iran, echoing the views of Israel’s Likud Party.

King Hamad of Bahrain, where the headquarters of the U.S. 5th Fleet is located, is quoted in a November 2009 cable as saying, “That program [Iran’s nuclear program] must be stopped. The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.” Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri is quoted in an August 2006 cable as saying, “Iraq [invasion] was unnecessary. Iran [invasion] is necessary.” Zaid Al Rifai, the head of Jordan’s Senate and the father of its prime minister, is quoted as saying, “Bomb Iran, or live with an Iranian bomb. Sanctions, carrots, incentives won’t matter.”

That the Arab rulers are hostile to Iran is not news to Iranians. The hostility is centuries-old. What is disturbing is that the U.S. mainstream media has used such private sentiments to advance the narrative that the neoconservatives, the Israel lobby, and the War Party have developed about Iran, namely, that Iran is a threat to the non-existent stability of the Middle East and non-existent “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians, and that its non-existent nuclear weapons program is a security threat to the U.S. allies in that region and beyond. That those Arab rulers do not dare to make the same statement publicly because that would make them Israel’s bedfellows, not to mention the fact that Iran’s tough stance on Israel is hugely popular with the Arab masses, only indicates the utter dishonesty of such U.S. allies.

But the mainstream media has also demonstrated its moral bankruptcy by failing to talk about the huge gap between the sentiments of the masses  and their rulers in the Islamic world regarding Iran’s nuclear program, Iran’s stance toward Israel, the nature of the Arab regimes that are supposedly allies of the U.S., and the likely consequences of military attacks on Iran. That is because the mainstream media wishes to hide the truths that may destroy the pro-war narrative on Iran.

To begin with, the mainstream media fails to point out that almost all the Arab nations whose rulers have advocated military attacks on Iran are ruled by unpopular and corrupt dictatorships or autocratic regimes that are supported by the U.S. Saudi Arabia is run by a medieval system in which women have almost no rights and the citizens enjoy no political freedom. Bahrain is an island nation in which the Shi’ites that make up a very large majority of the population are suppressed harshly by the ruling Sunnis. The government of Bahrain has even been importing Sunni Arabs and quickly granting them citizenship in order to increase the number of the Sunnis.

The UAE, a nation that consists of seven absolute monarchies, is ruled by a corrupt Arab tribe, and was created by the British Empire in 1971. To see the duplicity of its rulers just keep in mind that the UAE has a bogus claim on the ownership of three islands in the Persian Gulf, the Greater and Lesser Tunb and Abu Mousa, that have been part of Iran for at least 1,000 years, while at the same time enriching itself through the lucrative commerce that it has been enjoying with Iran and the $400 billion that Iranian expatriates have invested there over the last decade.

An extensive poll taken by the Brookings Institution last August clearly indicates that, contrary to their ruling dictators, the Arab masses support Iran’s nuclear program. They even support Iran having nuclear weapons, considering that possibility as positive for the Middle East because it would balance Israel’s arsenal, and they consider Israel and the U.S., not Iran, as the biggest threats to peace and stability in the region.

In advancing the pro-war narrative on Iran, the mainstream media has also completely forgotten that one of the main reasons for the terrorism committed by the radicals of the Middle East against the West, and in particular the U.S., is the close association of the Arab regimes with the U.S. and the support that they receive. It fails to point out the following:

  • 15 of the 19 terrorists who attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, were from Saudi Arabia, two from Egypt, and one each from Lebanon and the UAE.
  • Not a single Iranian has been implicated in any terrorist attacks on the United States for at least two decades, and even when Iran has been accused of being involved, no proofs has been presented to the public.
  • The Taliban – bloody enemies of Iran – are in fact the former Afghan mujahedin who were funded by Saudi Arabia, armed by the CIA, and trained by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and they came to power in Afghanistan in 1996 with ISI support. Leaked cables indicate that the U.S. is still worried about ISI support for the Taliban.
  • It was Iran – not Saudi Arabia and the other Arab governments – that provided significant support to the U.S. to overthrow the Taliban in 2001, and in fact it was the Northern Alliance, an Afghan group armed and supported by Iran, that entered Kabul and overthrew the Taliban, not the U.S. Army.
  • Iran played a crucial role in the formation of Afghanistan’s national unity government in December 2001.
  • The Shi’ite groups that are now in power in Iraq and are touted by the U.S. as models of democratic parties in the Middle East were suppressed by Saddam Hussein during the 1980s when the U.S. was supporting Iraq in its war with Iran, and it was Iran that gave these groups refuge and armed and trained them.
  • It is the rich and conservative Arabs of the Persian Gulf who provide funding to Islamic schools – the madrassas – in Pakistan that are breeding grounds for training radicals that eventually carry out attacks on the U.S. and its allies.
  • It is Saudi Arabia that supports terrorist groups such as Jundallah that carry out terrorist attacks inside Iran, and the Salafi and Wahhabi sects of Sunnism, both emanating from Saudi Arabia, provide the ideology for the radical terrorists.
  • It is Saudi Arabia that by siding with Saddam Hussein during his war with Iran and with the Sunnis after he was overthrown by the U.S. has contributed much to war and misery in the Middle East. The vast majority of the fighters of al-Qaeda in Iraq were from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt.
  • The same Saad Hariri quoted in the cable visited Iran two weeks ago and called for a defense pact with Iran.

The mainstream media does not even mention that when the Arab rulers call for bombing Iran, they also state that it should only be done if there is a just solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, because the media is interested in one and only one subject: advancing the anti-Iran narrative that is advocated by the neoconservatives, the War Party, and the Israel lobby.

The mainstream media also fails to educate the public about the likely consequences of a war with Iran. It does not tell the public that Iran is not Iraq or Afghanistan, that any war with Iran will quickly spread throughout the Middle East and quite possibly well beyond, that it will destroy the economy of the West, and that it may eventually lead to World War III.

Author: Muhammad Sahimi

Muhammad Sahimi, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and the NIOC Chair in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Southern California, is co-founder and editor of the website, Iran News & Middle East Reports.