Arabs ask if they should worry about a nuclear-armed Iran
As the West presses Iran over nuclear programmes, Arab governments, especially the oil-rich sheikdoms on the Persian Gulf, have a new dilemma - a nuclear-armed Iran, as an equally unpalatable alternative to an angry Iran pushed too hard by the west. Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman, Hossam Zaki, explained: “If the West puts pressure on Iran, regardless of the means of this pressure, additional pressure, increased pressure, do you think the Iranians will retaliate or stand idly by and wait for their fate to fall on their head? The most likely answer is they will retaliate. And where do you think they will retaliate?” For Iran’s Persian Gulf neighbours, there is growing resignation that Iran cannot be stopped from developing nuclear arms, even if it says its programme is peaceful. If it crosses this frontier, states like Bahrain might encourage other nuclear powers to put weapons on their territories as a deterrent. The US navy already has a base there. As the editor of the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi, Abdel-Beri Atwan, wrote, “Arab regimes, and the gulf ones in particular, will find themselves part of a new alliance against Iran alongside Israel.” Now that poses serious posers.