Tuesday, July 6, 2010

UAE Ambassador endorses U.S. strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities

Jeffery Goldberg gets the scoop, naturally, in his interview with UAE Ambassador to the U.S., Yousef al-Otaiba, at the 2010 Aspen Ideas Festival (sounds like a pretension-fest, but good people do seem to be involved).

Al-Otaiba stated in no uncertain terms that he favors a U.S. strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.  He made it clear that Iran is by far the UAE's main security concern.  In response to the question, "Do you want the U.S. to stop the Iranian nuclear program by force?" al-Otaiba answered:

Absolutely, absolutely. I think we are at risk of an Iranian nuclear program far more than you are at risk. At 7,000 miles away, and with two oceans bordering you, an Iranian nuclear threat does not threaten the  continental United States. It may threaten your assets in the region, it will threaten the peace process, it will threaten balance of power, it will threaten everything else, but it will not threaten you.
Our military, who has existed for the past 40 years, wake up, dream, breathe, eat, sleep the Iranian threat. It's the only conventional military threat our military plans for, trains for, equips for, that's it, there's no other threat, there's no country in the region that is a threat to the U.A.E., it's only Iran. So yes, it's very much in our interest that Iran does not gain nuclear technology.

 And they call Netanyahu a hawk!

What's more frightening than contemplating the fallout of a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities?  al-Otaiba's suggestion that, if Iran isn't knocked off its high horse, that countries in the region will feel compelled to fall in line with Iranian axis in order not to incur its wrath.

There are many countries in the region who, if they lack the assurance the U.S. is willing to confront Iran, they will start running for cover towards Iran. Small, rich, vulnerable countries in the region do not want to be the ones who stick their finger in the big bully's eye, if nobody's going to come to their support.

In a follow-up post, Goldberg reminds us that Arab preoccupation with the Iranian threat should come as no surprise.  Middle East 2.0, as Barry Rubin puts it, would seem to be a return to the norm, and the era of a concerted Arab military campaign against Israel the aberration.