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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Security conference in Bahrain reveals Arab fears. Israel not mentioned.

There was a major regional security conference held in Bahrain this week, meant to position the Gulf Cooperation Council countries for the challenges in the new Middle East.

One of the themes of the conference was the threat from Iran:
Saudi Arabia's former intelligence chief says the Iranian escalation will lead to "misadventure", stressing the readiness of the Arab Gulf States to use all options available to defend their interests.

Prince Turki al-Faisal said that "everyone heard about the provocative maneuvers carried out in the Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Arabian Sea, as well as statements by the leaders of Iran on the closure of the Strait of Hormuz and the targeting of neighboring countries."

Quoted by the local media Wednesday the senior prince stated that "the increasing escalation and tension may lead to a misadventure or a military confrontation." Prince Turki stressed that the Gulf states are not part of the conflict between Iran and the West over Tehran's nuclear program, however he noted that the GCC countries are fully committed to "legitimacy and international laws."

Many of the speakers talked about the challenges of economic disparities and some speakers floated the idea of a federation between the six GCC states in the face of external threats. Women's rights were also a minor topic.

(One of the less serious speakers was our old friend Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan, General Commander of Dubai Police, who had his fifteen minutes of fame with his bizarre announcements after the assassination of Mahmoud Mabhouh in Dubai. He said that the Muslim Brotherhood was no less dangerous as Iran is. He also criticized US policy in the Gulf.)

The Bahrain News Agency summarized every speech.

And it is most interesting that in a major Gulf conference of the priorities for regional security, neither the word "Israel" nor the word "Palestine" was mentioned once - but Iran was mentioned in the summary 50 times. 

When these same leaders speak to Western leaders and newspapers, they always position Israel as the single biggest threat to the world's security, and pretend it is their top priority. But when they are speaking to their own, they show their true feelings and fears. They aren't afraid of Israeli "aggression" because they know that Israel is not a threat to them, directly or indirectly.

They fear the Islamists, they fear Iran, and they fear modernization sprinting ahead of their own abilities to lead their people.

But they don't fear Israel.

UPDATE: Ma'ariv reported that a Gulf country communicated with Israel that sanctions against Iran will not help, "and in the end we will all go to Heaven." (h/t Yoel)