PGCC States must get Their Priorities Straight

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hassan Hanizadeh 

The foreign ministers of the six members of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council are scheduled to meet in Manama, Bahrain today (21st April), with the main points of discussion being Iran’s peaceful nuclear program and the Lebanon crisis.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan, Ahmed Abul Gheit and Salaheddin al-Bashir, will also attend the meeting.

There is obviously no legitimate reason for the U.S. secretary of the state to attend the meeting since Rice’s meddling will not help enhance the security of the Middle East.

Regional Arab countries, especially the Persian Gulf Arab states, have always brought up two issues in their recent meetings: the alleged nuclear threat posed by Iran and the issue of the three Iranian islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs.

The United States and other Western countries have had a robust military presence in the Middle East for about two decades, to the detriment of regional countries. But regional Arab countries have been trying to use the issue of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program as a pretext for ignoring this reality.

The ominous presence of the occupying forces in Iraq, the United States’ efforts to implement the Greater Middle East Initiative, and the Zionist regime’s massacres of Palestinians are some of the subjects that remain off the agenda of the meetings of Persian Gulf foreign ministers.

The Lebanon crisis is on the top of the agenda of the Manama meeting so it is essential that the foreign ministers carefully examine the roots of the crisis, namely the direct intervention of the U.S., France, and some of their Arab allies.

Without a careful analysis of the Lebanon crisis and efforts to create a consensus among Lebanon’s political parties, it will be impossible to help the country.

The issue of Palestine -- which is always given short shrift in the political discussions of regional Arab countries -- also deserves to be on the top of the agenda at the Manama meeting.

The foreign ministers of the Persian Gulf states should study the real roots of the Middle East’s problems and desist from magnifying Iran’s nuclear issue.

It is obvious that the U.S. and Israel are trying to divert attention from the sad realities in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine by raising a commotion about Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities, and it would further complicate the situation in the Middle East if the Arab states fall into this trap.

The need to break the Zionist regime’s siege of Gaza and to settle the issue of the Lebanese election without any intervention by regional or extra-regional powers, as well as the fact that there is still no timetable for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq are currently the most important challenges of the Middle East.

The PGGC’s decision to invite the U.S. secretary of state to the Manama meeting was an unjustified political move because it will reinforce the White House’s false belief that Middle Eastern countries cannot solve their problems without U.S. intervention


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