Saudi Arabia had requested Arab nations to take a “serious and honest” stand against Iran’s aggression and meddling in Arab countries. And they did. Most of the 22 members of the Arab League classified Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah, as a terrorist organisation. The League also plans to brief the United Nations Security Council about Tehran’s destabilising regional policies. And all Iran-financed TV stations will be banned by Arab telecommunications satellites, as these stations have a record of fanning sectarian tensions in the Arab world.
It is no secret that Iran intends to take control of as many Arab capitals as it can. In fact, an Iranian MP once boasted of Beirut, Baghdad, Damascus, and Sana’a being under full Iranian influence. But Tehran is mistaken if it believes it can achieve its objectives. The Arab League meeting on Sunday proved that in the face of such aggression from Iran, the Arab world is willing to show a united front. It was clear that there was general agreement about Iran’s nefarious plan for regional domination — and a general desire to make sure that plan did not succeed.
Lebanon condemned all attacks against Arab nations — but curiously did not mention Iran. Clearly, Hezbollah’s grip on the Lebanese government is so strong that it cannot bring itself to blame the group’s patron. As Bahrain’s foreign minister, Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa rightly put it, Lebanon is under the “total control” of Hezbollah.
Importantly, the League meeting also highlighted the fact that not only does Hezbollah have a stranglehold on policy-formation in Lebanon, but it is also aiding and abetting other Iranian proxies in other Arab countries. Hezbollah is directly interfering in the affairs of other Arab countries.
In the face of such open threats to their security, the Saudi move to call for the summit — backed by the UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait — was a necessary step.
It is clear that Iran does not believe in good neighbourliness. Arab countries — especially the Gulf states — have exercised a lot of patience when dealing with Tehran, hoping for a change in behaviour. But that did not happen. Iran, instead of trying to build bridges, continues to try to destabilise the region by insidious means, chief among which is through proxies like Hezbollah and the Al Houthi militia. However, a clear message has now been sent to the policymakers in Tehran: The Arabs have had enough, and will not tolerate this behaviour anymore.