An Arab Second Chance (Bernard Lewis Part IV)

One interesting observation put forward by Dr. Bernard Lewis in his interview with The Jerusalem Post (‘The Iranians do not expect to be attacked’, Jan. 31, 2007), is this one: 

The Arab states are very concerned about the Shia revolution. They see a militant, expansionist Shia movement which already seems to be spreading from Iran to Iraq, through Syria to Lebanon, all the way across to the Mediterranean and eastward to Afghanistan and Pakistan and so on.

One has to bear in mind that there are significant Shia minorities in Saudi Arabia and all around the Gulf, all the Gulf States. Yemen is in a sense a Shia state, though not of the same branch. From the Saudi point of view, the Shia revolution really constitutes a major menace. That is why they were so quietly supportive of Israel in the Lebanon war, and I think they would take that line again if there is a further clash. Or, should I say, when there is a further clash. 

One of the great tragedies of the Middle East is that the Arabs did not recognize the influx of Jews as an opportunity. By giving up a Little land and providing a safe haven against the murderous anti-semitism of Europe, the Arabs could have become an economic powerhouse.

Instead, they became a series of embattled, unstable, and financially destitute countries.

And now, there is another reason. Arab governments realize that they are in a lot of trouble. A lot. They have Shia minorities with sympathies with Iran and an Iran with hegemonic aspirations. They have turned to the US for help, but working with the US comes with a price tag – and some real cultural differences that are difficult to overcome.

On the other hand, Israel understands the Arabs and is there, on the ground, with them. The Arabs KNOW that Israel has a vested interest in stopping Iran. American interest has been shown to be somewhat more… fickle.

Saudi, the Kingdom of Jordan, and the Gulf States do not like Israel, but they are coming to realize that they cannot live without her.

You might think of it as an Arab second chance.


You can see the rest of The Jerusalem Post article here: