The Arab view of Iran doesn’t help it manage reality or change anything for the better

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL February 12, 2019

There’s much merit in this rather frank view of the Arab world’s relationship with Iran. Hussein Ibish on Bloomberg Opinion notes that the Arab world blames Iran and its 40-year-old revolution for all its problems, but it would be a mess with or without Tehran’s help,

True enough.

Consider the way the Arab world is behaving with respect to jihadist terrorism. For the past few years, it has been stoutly asserting that Iran and no other country is responsible for terrorist attacks worldwide. The idea has received more play than it would’ve had without Donald Trump in the White House. To have a useful idiot and compliant cheerleader as US president gives the Arabs a powerful soapbox.

Even so, the facts unfortunately don’t back up Arab claims.  The Iranians misbehave for sure. They meddle in the Middle East, have expansionist aims, want to export Shia values and systems using non-state actors, and particularly of late, have been engaging in extra-territorial attempts to attack dissidents based in the West. But they aren’t the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism, if we’re talking jihadist attacks. Al Qaeda and ISIS are not Shia. Their ideology is not a perversion of Shia principles but of Wahhabi ones. None of the 9/11 hijackers was from Iran.

And yet, as Mr Ibish writes, “a powerful Arab discourse has developed that holds Iran responsible for all the biggest problems in the region.”

It allows for one delusion after the other.