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The West must unite and confront Iran

The massive attack on the oil facilities does not only target Saudi Arabia, but rather the whole region and even the world.

By Abdulrahman Al Rashed

Published: Tue 17 Sep 2019, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 17 Sep 2019, 10:41 PM

During the past two decades, the talk of Iran's plan to control the region and threaten the sovereignty of regional states has not been just an exaggeration inspired by the repetitive crises involving Tehran.
The Iranian Revolution changed the dynamics in the region. The regime built an empire of armed militias that has become the biggest of its kind in the world today. Tehran has invested in these militias, and established numerous armed and trained organisations in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, as well as Afghanistan; all working under the command of the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
In the few days preceding Saturday's attack on the Saudi oil facility at Abqaiq, information received from Iraq indicated that three armed organisations had been planning operations against US targets in Iraq. This lends weight to the possibility that the attack against Saudi Arabia was launched from Iraq, the country that is no longer able to control the militias on its territory due to the infiltration of the IRGC.
The IRGC has the upper hand in Iraq thanks to several militias that take their funding from the Iraqi government and instructions from Tehran. The same 'scenario' is replicated in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen: A failed or weak centralised state, while militias control sovereign decisions in favour of Tehran.
The massive attack on the oil facilities does not only target Saudi Arabia, but rather the whole region and even the world.
Should we blame ourselves for failing to confront Iran, directly or by proxy, in recent years? Should we blame Washington and the rest of the world powers that have major interests in the region?
Iran effectively controls Sanaa, Baghdad, Damascus, and Beirut and is working to dominate the Gulf and the rest of the region. The options for confronting Tehran are few because it does not operate in a direct manner. It issues false statements and holds its affiliated organisations, such as the Houthis in Yemen, Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon, responsible.
Is the attack on Abqaiq a result of the US sanctions on Iran? No, it is not. But the opposite is true. One of the reasons behind the economic sanctions, and the rejection of the nuclear agreement (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) was Iran's insistence on expanding its power and threatening regional states. The pro-Iran rebel armed militias in Iraq and Lebanon emerged years before the nuclear agreement and the sanctions, not vice versa.
Iran is an evil state with a large project. Its ideology and ambitions resemble those of Al Qaeda and Daesh; its danger threatens everyone. Without a united front determined to confront it, it will only expand and flourish.
-Asharq Al Awsat
Abdulrahman Al Rashed is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al Awsat

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