A historic address was delivered virtually last week by King Salman on Saudi Arabia’s behalf at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). The speech was given at a crucially sensitive time, during which the world is passing through an extremely dangerous and decisive turning point. The levers and balances controlling the equilibrium of power both regionally and internationally are in a volatile state. The constant factors affecting this equilibrium have been mixed with variable ones due to the lack of a correct assessment by the major powers of the threat posed by the Iranian regime to global peace and security.
In this dangerous climate, King Salman’s address came as a last call before the world slides into chaos, as it undoubtedly will if the major world powers allow Iran, which has proved on multiple occasions that it is an irresponsible rogue state, to acquire weapons. This could happen due to a variety of reasons: Some are political and linked to changes in the relationship between the major world powers and the US, while others are pragmatic and linked to greed and profit from signing strategic arms deals with Iran. None of these pay any heed to the constants that have contributed to maintaining the balance of power in the world since the end of the Second World War.
Are the countries that support Iran or turn a blind eye to its transgressions and excesses prepared to face the ramifications that could result from a change in the international balance of power? Such dangerous interactions cannot be controlled if unleashed and cannot be dealt with by a policy of brinkmanship.
Allowing the creation of an international coalition that unites Iran, Russia, China and other regional parties in the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia — a move that the Europeans have turned a blind eye to — cannot be considered as a safe interaction along the lines of a pressure or negotiating card that can be reversed with some gains.
In his speech, King Salman reviewed the history of the Iranian regime’s excesses toward the Kingdom over the past four decades, providing compelling evidence that the policy to integrate Iran into the international community via the lifting of sanctions with the aim of offering incentives for the Tehran regime to change its hostile approach that is supportive of terrorism and extremism has not paid any dividends. On the contrary, this policy has offered support to bolster the Iranian regime’s hostile approach, with it taking advantage of the financial resources made available to it to support its armed militias in the region and use these to undermine regional security and stability.
This review of the Iranian regime’s excesses was not aimed at seeking international help to counter Iran, but was rather intended to highlight that the danger the Iranian regime poses is a threat to global peace and security, not only in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia has gone through different phases in the context of its relations with Iran since the establishment of the so-called Islamic Republic in 1979. The Kingdom began by showing respect to the choice of the Iranian people, recognizing the new regime immediately upon the announcement of its establishment.
When signs of openness emerged in Iran in the 1990s under former Presidents Mohammed Khatami and Hashemi Rafsanjani and until the end of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s first term, the Kingdom sought to strengthen its ties with Iran. It did so despite Tehran violating the sovereignty of Arab nations and attempting to infiltrate Arab societies and extend its influence within them.
Despite this effort to strengthen ties, however, Iran’s regime has pursued hostile policies, such as supporting sectarianism and extremism and meddling in the internal affairs of Arab countries in general and in Saudi Arabia in particular. Although Iran carried out these policies covertly in the 1990s and 2000s, it has publicly and brazenly executed them since the outbreak of the so-called Arab Spring uprisings in Syria and Yemen. Before this, it had permeated and taken control of the apparatuses of the Lebanese and Iraqi states.
The Lebanese Hezbollah, the official arm of Iran in Lebanon and the Middle East, has become a formidable burden for the Lebanese state because it has continued to implement the Iranian regime’s agenda in the region, which is inconsistent with the interests of the Lebanese state and not aligned with the pluralistic model of Lebanon. Last month’s explosion at Beirut port provided further evidence of Lebanon’s ongoing pain due to Hezbollah’s monopolization of the state and its total submission to Iran.
When the Kingdom’s leadership decided to end the chaos, which gripped several neighboring Arab countries and encompassed Saudi Arabia itself, it was directly targeted by Iranian-backed militias, with the Houthis launching drone attacks targeting Aramco’s oil facilities, threatening the global economy in its entirety. The Houthis have fired more than 300 ballistic missiles and 400 drones toward cities in the Kingdom.
The world should be well aware of the fact that the Iranian threat has gone beyond the boundaries of the Middle East. Anyone can see how many bombings and attacks have taken place in Europe, with the Iranian regime seeking to eliminate dissidents. Also, the Lebanese Hezbollah has undertaken dangerous movements and criminal operations in Africa and Latin America.
King Salman’s speech provided a stark warning to the UNGA and a final call to the world powers before a point of no return is reached if they continue to manipulate the Iranian card, ignoring the threat Tehran poses to the world and its support for global terrorism and extremism.