Seyyed Hadi Borhani, a professor of Israel Studies at Tehran University, says the always-negative approach adopted by Iran so far has led Israel to introduce Tehran as an enemy of the Arabs. It’s time for Iran to praise Kuwait and even Saudi Arabia for not joining the trend of making peace with Israel, which is considered a joint enemy of the Muslim world.
What follows are highlights of the remarks he made in a recent interview with Iranian news website Entekhab:
Kuwait is a small country on the shores of the Persian Gulf, surrounded by several major countries in the region including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The total area of this Arab country is about 17,000 square kilometres, which is a small figure compared to the 1.5 and 2 million square kilometre areas of Iran and Saudi Arabia. The population of Kuwait, in proportion to its area, is not comparable to the population of its neighbouring countries.
The power of the neighbours has always been a concern for this small country and has led Kuwait to make an alliance with great world powers and a security and military coalition with them. In fact, if there was no such alliance, Iraq (which occupied Kuwait in 1990) would have swallowed and digested it by now.
Despite Kuwait’s small size and limited power and its vulnerability to pressure from major powers (especially the United States), it pursues an independent policy towards Palestine, which is admired by observers and analysts. The latest example of this courageous and principled policy is Kuwait’s stance on the UAE-Israel compromise. At this point, Kuwait opposed the policy of normalisation of ties with Israel and the passage of Israeli planes over the country, declaring that it would be the last Arab country to establish relations with Israel.
The Kuwaiti parliament also criticised the UAE-Israel agreement. Kuwait’s position on the UAE agreement can be considered the best position adopted in the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council and probably the most independent position in the entire Arab world.
Kuwait’s position on this issue is even stronger and more serious than the positions of Iran’s allies and members of the Axis of Resistance, including Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
The independent and free positions of Kuwait on the Palestinian issue are not limited to this and are rooted in the history of this country. The positions of the Kuwaiti government and its parliament have always been considered as free positions on this issue during the past years.
Shortly after Donald Trump’s move to propose the deal of the century, Speaker of the Kuwaiti parliament, Marzouq al-Ghanim, said at a meeting of Arab Parliaments in Jordan that “In the name of the Arab nation, I declare that the deal of the century is born dead and its real place is the dustbin of history.”
The anti-Israel stance of the Speaker of the Kuwaiti Parliament is not limited to this and has a long history. Marzouq al-Ghanim is perhaps the most active and serious speaker of the world parliament against Israel’s policies.
The importance of this Kuwaiti policy becomes clear when we consider the country’s inability to provide security using its own limited domestic resources, as well as its dependence on US and Western powers for its security. Also, consider the relatively bad behaviour of some Palestinian organisations towards Kuwait during the occupation of this country by Iraq. Unfortunately, these organisations committed a shameful mistake by supporting Saddam’s regime during the occupation. That came as, throughout its history Kuwait has always supported the Palestinian liberation and has hosted about half a million Palestinian refugees and displaced persons.
Given these facts, Kuwait’s resistance to the US pressure, as well as its move to forgive Palestinian organisations and the continuation of an independent policy based on support for the Palestinian cause and people, can be considered a historic move.
A fundamental question regarding Kuwait’s policy towards Palestine is why and how Kuwait is supporting their cause. What are the reasons or factors that differentiate Kuwaiti policies from the policies of other countries in the region, especially the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia?
Answering this question requires independent research, but it seems that the influence of several factors in this case is clear. In addition to the experience, foresight and maturity of the Emir of Kuwait, who has always been praised by many leaders in the region, including Hezbollah leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, two important factors seem to be effective in this regard:
First, Kuwait is superior to all Persian Gulf Cooperation Council countries in terms of democracy and democratic governance.
Kuwait’s parliament is a serious, old and deep-rooted assembly that can represent a significant part of the Kuwaiti people and their demands and opinions.
The history of the Arab Middle East clearly shows that wherever the views of the people and their will have been the focus of attention, respect and influence, any interaction with Israel has been opposed.
The second factor is probably the high level of education in Kuwait. Kuwait is a country that has been paying serious attention to the issue of education and culture for many years, and therefore its benefit from science, art, and expertise is commendable and undeniable. Therefore, one can expect the people of Kuwait and its elites to know the history of the region, the history of Palestine and the policies of Israel more deeply and accurately than other nations in the region do.
For this reason, Kuwait has nurtured numerous writers and elites who have been prolific and influential in various fields, including the study of Palestine.
In comparison, the UAE does not have these two factors. It does not have a serious democracy, nor does it benefit from Kuwait’s public knowledge of the Palestinian issue.
Iran’s Stance on Arabs’ Normalisation of Ties with Israel
After the ill-fated move of the United Arab Emirate in establishing relations with Israel, The Islamic Republic of Iran adopted a decisive and calculated policy to put pressure on the UAE and condemn it for making such a decision. This action by Iran is necessary, but may be insufficient.
Iran has a long history of condemning such acts and putting pressure on Arab countries. Almost all of Iran’s interaction with the subject has been a negative one. The positive dimension of this policy does not seem to resonate much in Iranian policies of dealing with Arab countries. This has made Iran’s official policy to seem like an anti-Arab one. It is as if Iran is looking for an excuse to denounce the Arab countries and their positions. This has helped Iran’s regional enemies or rivals to abuse the situation and portray Iran’s regional policy as an anti-Arab one.
Israel is trying hard to convince the Arab countries that Iran is the enemy of the Arab states and unfortunately (to some extent) it has succeeded in doing this. Iran’s positive interaction with positive and constructive positions of Arab countries, such as Kuwait’ policy regarding Palestine, can neutralise these efforts and put Iran’s regional policy in a reasonable and balanced direction.
This policy could encourage other Arab countries to follow the Kuwaiti-Qatari model of relations with Iran and take a stand against Israel.
At present, there seems to be some kind of inattention to such a policy, and the Islamic Republic’s regional policy is pursued more through pressure and coercion. For example, in the wake of the UAE-Israel compromise, Saudi Arabia has shown considerable resistance to the US and Israeli pressure to join Abu Dhabi and the peace agreement. Perhaps this policy should have been met with limited encouragement or a specific reward.
Contrary to this expectation, the attacks of the allied forces of Iran (the Ansarullah of Yemen) against the Saudi positions increased during this period and a heavy attack was carried out against the Abha airport in Saudi Arabia. Due to Riyadh’s resistance against the US pressures, Iran-backed forces could wait until the Arab League summit.
This patience, along with sending the necessary messages, could have encouraged Saudi Arabia to resist more (against US pressure) and play a positive role in the Arab League summit. Had such a move taken place, the possibility of taking a tougher stance against US pressure and taking a softer stance against Iran at the summit would have increased.
This problem (tendency to deal negatively with Arab countries) in Iran, of course, is not limited to the government and official bodies. It has been seen many times that as soon as a mistake is made by an Arab country, it is severely attacked by the public and media. Arab embassies in Tehran have been attacked, flags set on fire, or rallies have been held against Arab rulers.
However, a rally in praise of a right action or an admirable stance of an Arab country has never been held in Tehran.
Hoping for such a day, the author of this text offers a wreath on the occasion of Kuwait’s independent and courageous stance on the Palestinian issue.