Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)

Are we, the Saudis, too obsessed with Iran? Or should we be too obsessed or be annoyed with Iran? During the past many decades, we have tried several times to extend our hands toward Iran seeking better and stable relations with a neighbor with whom we have many things in common.

Throughout these years, Saudi Arabia served hundreds of thousands of Iranian pilgrims who visited the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. We have always treated them with utmost respect during Haj and Umrah seasons. Unfortunately, since the 1979 revolution, Iran has been squandering all opportunities for the establishment of cordial ties with the Kingdom.

After the revolution, Iran had its name changed to the Islamic Republic of Iran, thus becoming a country ruled by so-called Islamic jurists and where clerics would serve as heads of state. Frankly speaking, it is their country and it is their right to choose whatever form of government they deem fit. Observers may recall that Muslims across the globe were happy for the Iranians who stood for themselves. But what happened after the toppling of the Iranian king Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi?

I would not like to talk about the American hostage crisis or the wholesale execution of thousands of Iranian intellectuals, who were basically the driving force behind the revolution. I would like to write about the true purpose of the Iranian revolution.

Iran claims to be an Islamic republic and is surrounded by Muslim countries that have never in modern history attacked or interfered in its internal matters. Ideally an Islamic republic should be an island of peace with its doors open to sincerely embrace its Muslim neighbors. Ironically, Iran proved to be the exact opposite. Its first declared message to its neighboring countries especially to Saudi Arabia was that it would export its revolution. And it wasn’t only lip service; it was a real threat to the Kingdom and the other Gulf states. During the early days of the revolution, there were clear indications that the Iranians had started to enlist supporters to threaten the security of the Kingdom. Those actions came to a head in the late 1980s when some Iranian pilgrims were intercepted and caught trying to smuggle C4 explosives to be used in the presence of millions of worshipers in the holiest Muslim city, Makkah.

That wasn’t the end of the story. We have seen many other acts like the attacks on Saudi missions in Iran, which is a violation of international treaties and Islamic teachings.

What is the goal of Iran and its proxies in the region? The Scud missiles are usually out of the reach of armed groups. Iran was behind arming the Houthis and the militia could not have targeted Islam’s holiest site without the approval from Tehran.

The world has seen firsthand the real intentions of the Houthis and their main supporter, the Iranian regime, which instead of looking after its own people and improving the living standard of its population is disturbing the peace in many of its neighboring countries. At the end, the Scud missile that was fired toward Makkah should serve as a wake-up call for many misled Yemenis and Iranians. Targeting the holiest site of Islam is evidence that Iran is a threat to the region’s peace and stability.

Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Iran: A Threat to Peace reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.