An emergency meeting of Arab and Muslim heads of state resoundly condemned Iran’s destabilising actions in the Gulf and in the Arab world. This was an important step to show a unified Arab and Muslim stance against Iran’s continuous interfering in the affairs of Arab states. For far too long, Iran has been tacitly allowed to build up proxy forces in Arab countries such as Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon to hold the citizens of those countries hostage to Tehran’s whims and foreign policy stunts. The Arab people deserve to be free from Iranian-influenced tyranny and war, which has dragged the region through some of its darkest days. Now the ball is in the international community’s court.
The Makkah summits rightly placed the onus on world leaders to apply strict measures on Iran in order to curb its behaviour. Tehran should not be allowed to pursue a nuclear programme in which it would eventually be able to obtain a nuclear weapon. Saudi King Salman warned that Iran’s interference in the Arab region’s affairs and development of its nuclear and ballistic programmes constitute a “glaring defiance” of the UN charters. Also, Iran should not be allowed to hold countries hostage by building up proxy militias. And finally, Tehran should not be allowed to openly threaten to shut down the Strait of Hormuz and continuously encourage attacks such as those on the oil tankers off Fujairah’s coast as well as attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure. While Iran’s actions seemingly affect only the Middle East, the repercussions of its meddling will most certainly be felt worldwide. The international community has an obligation to stand up and say enough is enough.
International maritime security should not be something taken lightly as 30 per cent of the world’s crude oil passes through this Strait. In light of the rising tensions being felt in the region, it is incumbent that all parties exercise caution and restraint going forward.
Saudi and US officials have made it crystal clear that they do not want war, however, both countries have said that the ball is in Iran’s court to prove, with actions, instead of empty rhetoric, that it is going to act like a responsible member of the international community.
If not, it will have to face the consequences of a “very strong” US response, as US National Security Adviser John Bolton put it during a meeting with UAE leaders in Abu Dhabi last week.