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Many Arab leaders distancing themselves from Iran (TIMES OF ISRAEL) By ELHANAN MILLER 03/20/12)Source: http://www.timesofisrael.com/arab-leaders-differ-on-attitude-towards-iran/ TIMES OF ISRAEL TIMES OF ISRAEL Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Gulf countries call on Ahmadinejad not to close Strait of Hormuz

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s announcement Tuesday that his country is not seeking nuclear weapons will do little to assuage Arab suspicion of Iran’s role in the region.

Iran’s support of the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad and its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz to maritime traffic have not only raised oil prices to $107 a barrel, but have also managed to infuriate and alarm Arab commentators.

Kuwaiti Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah told the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) Tuesday that Gulf countries, including Kuwait, have appealed to Iranian officials not to close the strait or even threaten to do so. Sabah said Iran assured Kuwait it would not close the strait.

But even if the Iranian nuclear program is peaceful, Kuwait opposed it, the Kuwaiti Emir said. He noted that the Iranian nuclear plant in Bushehr is situated on the Persian Gulf, which provides drinking water to the entire region. A nuclear meltdown, he said, would be catastrophic to all Gulf countries. Kuwait, like the rest of the world, is worried about Iran’s noncompliance with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Sabah added.

On the diplomatic front, Iran’s support of Bashar Assad through its regional proxy, Hezbollah, has managed to infuriate Islamic scholar Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi. Speaking at a solidarity event with the Syrian revolution in Cairo Monday, Qaradawi lambasted Iran and Hizbullah, calling on all regional states to stand “as one” against them.

Iran — one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter? Saudi Arabia, though cautious of officially criticizing Iran, has allowed Jedda-based daily Okaz to publish a two-piece editorial last week about Iranian involvement in international terrorism.

“Terrorism is one of the methods Iran uses to implement its interests. A method that has become associated with that country ‘like the attachment of an Iranian to his carpet,’” wrote Saudi commentator Abdullah Sultan on March 12. Blaming Iran for attacks ranging from the bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut in 1983 to the assassination of Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in Beirut in 2005, Sultan evokes ethnic and historic anti-Iranian imagery to boost his case with a Sunni Arab audience.

“Iranian-Safavid policies excel at assassinations and terrorism, stemming from their Persian leaders’ belief that using these means serves Iranian interests. But this will undoubtedly lead to failure.”

But the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas sees things quite differently. Upon his return from a visit to Tehran Monday, Gaza leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar said Iran’s financial support of Hamas is both unwavering and “priceless.”

Zahar said his visit to Iran meant to stress a common Islamic heritage “that is broader than all forms of nationalism.” (© 2012 THE TIMES OF ISRAEL 03/20/12)

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