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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Arabs believe Iran is more dangerous to them than Israel

A survey in 18 Arab countries shows that most of their populations believe that Iran poses a greater danger to them than Israel.
A survey by YouGov, commissioned by Qatar’s Doha Debates and published last week, found that on the Arab side 80 per cent of those surveyed do not believe Iran’s assurances that it is not trying to develop nuclear weapons.

The poll, which surveyed more than 1,000 people in 18 Arab countries last month, found that most see Iran as a bigger threat to security than Israel, with a third believing Iran is just as likely as Israel to target Arab countries.
Michael Totten explains the significance of the findings.
The leadership in most of these countries has thought so for years. That average citizens now do so should be encouraging news for everyone in the region — aside from the Iranian government, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

Some may find it hard to believe that so many Arabs think Iran is more threatening than Israel, but I don’t. Leave aside the fact that Iran really is more threatening. Arabs and Persians have detested each other for more than a thousand years, ever since Arabs conquered premodern Iran and converted its people to Islam. The lasting ethnic enmity between the two is compounded by religious sectarianism. Most Arabs are Sunnis, most Persians are Shias, and Sunnis and Shias have been slugging it out with each other since the 8th century.


The Arab-Israeli conflict is a minor historical hiccup compared with the ancient feuds between Arabs and Persians, and Sunnis and Shias. It has barely lasted a fraction as long and has hardly killed anyone by comparison. Arabs and Persians killed hundreds of thousands of each other in the Iran-Iraq war alone in the 1980s. The civil war between Sunni and Shia militias in Baghdad a few years ago was much nastier than any of the Israeli-Palestinian wars.

It took time for all this to sink in with everyday Arab citizens. For a while there was a disconnect between the region’s Sunni Arab rulers and people. It looked like Iran, by supporting Hezbollah and Hamas against Israel, might actually pull off the most unlikely of coups in rallying the mass of Sunni Arabs in support of Persian Shia hegemony. That disconnect now seems to be over.

Thanks to the Iranian government’s stubborn insistence on developing nuclear weapons, the age-old strife between Persians and Arabs, and Shias and Sunnis, may finally be eclipsing the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The biggest implication for Middle East policy is that the West should be worrying more about an Iranian nuclear bomb than it is worrying about Israelis adding porches to their homes in Judea and Samaria. But don't expect President Obumbler and Herman Muenster to figure that out anytime soon.


At 3:01 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

No they won't catch on the profound shift in thinking in the Arab World. They still believe what's standing in the way of peace is Israeli intrasigence on the settlements. Boy, do they ever get the big picture wrong!

What could go wrong indeed

At 3:54 AM, Blogger tuleesh said...

"Arabs believe Iran is more dangerous to them than Israel"...Well, duh! What took them so long to figure it out?

It probably has to do with cultural pride when it comes to Iranianas vs. Arabs [Which is really Persians vs. Arabs]. After all, the Iranians have a culture that predates Islam by thousands of years. Maybe the Iranians think that their version of Islam is superior to the Arab/indigenous form. "Sniff, sniff, hmpf!"


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