The Other Lobby: Newspapers of Gulf Oil Monarchies Condemn US-Iran Rapprochement

The USG Open Source Center paraphrases Arabic news items in the newspapers of the Sunni Arab monarchies of the Gulf, many of which express concern about the thaw in US-Iranian relations. These countries are grouped in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that comprises Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman. Bahrain newspapers linked to the king were the most vituperative. Those in the UAE appeared mixed in their reaction:

Gulf Papers Deem US-Iran ‘Rapprochement’ As ‘Threat’ to GCC, React to Obama’s Comments on Bahrain
OSC Summary
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Document Type: OSC Summary

On 29 and 30 September, Bahrain and UAE newspapers were observed to carry commentaries reacting to Obama’s comments regarding Bahrain and the latest developments in the US-Iranian relations, expressing mixed views on the “rapprochement” between them, Ruhani’s stances, and the way they affect the Gulf states. Following is a roundup of some of these opinion pieces:

Manama Akhbar al-Khalij Online in Arabic — Website of independent, pro-government daily

— on 29 September carries a commentary saying that the Gulf states “are going to pay the price” for the US-Iranian relations. The commentary says that the United States “will steadily adopt the Iran’s stances toward the region,” referring to President Obama’s recent description of the situation in Bahrain as “sectarian tension.” The commentary says that Iran agreed to work with the United States on its nuclear program and Washington “will not hesitate to give up the head of the GCC” in return.

Manama Akhbar al-Khalij Online in Arabic

on 29 September carries a commentary saying that the “United States and Iran accustomed us to their hidden malicious coordination as they did in Iraq and Afghanistan,” but they revealed it now. The commentary adds “no wonder” Obama called Ruhani, because “improving the relations with Iran publicly became urgent now; it is the announcement of an illegitimate relationship that lasted for years.” The commentary further talks about the US Ambassador to Bahrain saying that his mission is to “ignite the sectarian rivalry.” …

Manama Akhbar al-Khalij Online in Arabic

on 30 September carries a commentary warning against the US-Iranian talks that represent an alarm to Arab countries, especially Gulf states. The commentary considers that the United States sought to get in touch with Iran despite claiming otherwise, adding that there are grave implications that arise from its approach. The commentary says that the United States is ready to “make concessions” to reach an agreement with Iran “at the expense of Arab countries,” that the consent to reach an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program among other regional issues is a sign of “US-Iranian collusion against Arab causes,” and that the United States’ decided to inform Israel about the developments of the talks with Iran which is a sign of “disregard” toward Arab countries.

Manama Akhbar al-Khalij Online in Arabic

on 30 September carries a commentary warning against the “rapprochement” between the United States and Iran and the threat it poses to the Gulf states. The commentary says that Iran has “expansive sectarian ambitions” while the United States wants to guarantee the flow of oil to it and to strike more arms deals with Gulf states due to their concern over threats from Iran. The commentary finally urges Gulf authorities to move forward with the Saudi proposed Gulf union to avoid being brought down by such threats. Manama Akhbar al-Khalij Online in Arabic on 30 September carries a cartoon depicting President Barack Obama as shrugging off the “Arab Gulf countries” trying to reach the hand labeled “Iran.” Cartoonist Abdallah al-Mahraqi added a comment that reads: “Villainy.”

Manama Al-Watan Online in Arabic — Website of pro-government daily, harshly critical of Bahraini opposition, featuring articles by prominent Bahraini commentators…

— on 29 September carries a commentary saying that “amid the US-Iran intimacy that came up suddenly, we find that President Obama went back in his last comments to stick Bahrain between Syria and Iraq.” The commentary adds that “inserting Bahrain in what happens in these two countries is the biggest political crime committed by Obama against our peaceful country.” The commentary goes on to say that with the US-Iranian “rapprochement,” Obama “is increasing the intensity of anger of Bahrain and the Gulf states against the subservient US stance that is biased toward Iran,” adding that forcing Bahrain between Syria and Iraq aims at benefiting Iran noting that it is trying to negotiate on this card since the “unsuccessful coup in 2011 and until now.” The commentator adds: “When Obama talks about Bahrain, he does not mean just Bahrain, he means all the Gulf countries; Bahrain represents the Gulf countries in this formula that is why the US-Iran rapprochement is destined to provoke the Gulf countries against the Iranian stance and it is then that other formulas of the political understandings in tipping the international balance will be explored.” …

Manama Al-Watan Online in Arabic

on 30 September carries a commentary saying that the region’s people have “lost faith” in the United States after it was “deceived” by religious groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Al-Wifaq in Bahrain, claiming that they represent them, President Obama’s “stupid” comments about the situation in Bahrain, and the US-Iranian talks. The commentary says that there is a “popular pressure” on the region’s authorities to “reconsider the relation” with the United States, “to replace the defense system,” and “push toward transferring Gulf investment to the east.”

Manama Al-Watan Online in Arabic

on 30 September carries a commentary emphasizing that “the trust between the GCC capitals and the United States is lost and the strategic alliance is gone forever” due to the US practices aiming to “change the Gulf ruling regimes” and its relation with Iran. The commentary adds that even if trust is restored on an official level, the “decline” of the popularity of the United States on the popular level will be “very hard to regain.”

The UAE’s newspapers were more restrained and showed a split between those who welcomed Iran’s opening and those who believed it was a fraud


United Arab Emirates

Dubai Al-Bayan Online in Arabic — Website of leading independent, pro-government daily:

— on 29 September carried a commentary on Ruhani’s speech in the UN General Assembly saying that Ruhani sent “positive” messages in all the directions, but “failed to reassure the Gulf countries.” The commentary says that Iran is “insisting on keeping the situation of distrust and suspicions” with the Gulf despite that the Gulf states assert that they want relations that are based on mutual respect and the good neighborly intentions.

Manama Al-Wasat Online in Arabic — Website of independent daily edited by former Bahraini opposition leader Mansur al-Jamri:

— on 30 September carries a commentary blaming the Bahraini authority and pro-government societies for describing the political conflict in the country as “sectarian” based conflict when it first broke out in 2011, saying that they “exaggerated” the alleged Sunni-Shiite conflict and claimed waging a war on terrorism through official outlets, which led to the international community’s condemnation of human rights violations in Bahrain and the recent comments made by President Obama at the UN.

Manama Al-Wasat Online in Arabic

on 30 September carries a commentary saying that the reasons behind the US-Iranian “rapprochement” is Iran’s desire to fill the “possible gap in regional relations” between the United States and some GCC countries over the backdrop of their different policies about the situations in Egypt and Syria, these countries’ desire to strengthen economic relations with the east to decrease dependency on US products, and the “US-Turkish dispute” that resulted from Turkish PM Erdogan’s stance toward “Islamic extremist movements.” The writer also believes that Iran is starting to “feel the sting” of US and European sanctions despite its attempts to overcome them, which is driving them toward seeking to settle any disputes with the West to lift them.

Sharjah Al-Khalij Online in Arabic — Website of conservative, independent, pro-government daily:

— on 30 September carries a commentary saying that Ruhani’s visit to the United States cannot be discussed taking into consideration the bilateral Iranian-US relations only, however it should be analyzed based on the historic US-Israeli-Iranian relations. The commentary adds that Israel seems “nervous” at the US-Iranian “rapprochement” and Turkey is “worried,” noting that the “Iranian flexibility is surrounded by many Arab and western interrogation marks.”

Abu Dhabi Al-Ittihad Online in Arabic — Website of influential independent, pro-government daily with large-circulation:

— on 29 September carries a commentary saying that “a big ambiguity” surrounds the Iranian shifts regarding the nuclear project and the economic boycott led by the United States, adding that the GCC countries did not agree on one explanation for these shifts and some states are mediating in the “rapprochement” of the US and Iranian’s views, amid the ongoing “flaw” in the Gulf politics. The commentary says that it is expected that the GCC countries would be “surprised” by the transformations and they will not know what the alternatives to deal with the developments are. The commentator explains that these countries do not have one stance toward the Muslim Brotherhood Group and the Syrian crisis, saying “we hope that the GCC will understand what is happening in the region in order not to be surprised by the developments that would make us face unexpected disasters.”

Abu Dhabi Al-Ittihad Online in Arabic

on 30 September carries a commentary saying that the words of Ruhani in his latest media campaign carried out before heading to New York are “beautiful and bombastic,” they include many “positive” points, but what Iran needs in this stage, is to transform these words into facts, until the vision of the Iranian President and the credibility of Iran on the international level are fulfilled. The commentary concludes as saying that the coming days will put Ruhani’s sayings at stake and show to the world what is really beneath these words.

Abu Dhabi Al-Ittihad Online in Arabic

on 30 September carries a commentary saying that the Iranian switch becoming the friend of the United States is a “hard reality for the neighbors who did not experience with their Iranian neighbor other than malignity.” The commentary adds that looking for a new strategy is a “must” especially if the Syrian revolution failed, because Iran will have the influence over the borders of the region.

Abu Dhabi Al-Ittihad Online in Arabic

on 30 September carries a commentary saying that “the signs of the improvement of the US-Iran relations are something reassuring because there is nothing worse than banging the drums of war.” The commentary says that the Iranians know how to negotiate and show their power on the table of compromises.”

15 Responses

  1. This is rather, indescribably ludicrous; one would/should expect the world to rejoice at this possible rapprochement; but, god’s be good, no! Shock and horror and peace eschewed.
    We’re in an upside down world and it’s a reality I refuse to accept.

  2. If the Gulf states wanted to influence Obama’s foreign policy, they shouldn’t have crossed us by supporting the foreign-jihadist faction of in Syria.

    Maybe this will wake some people up to the fact that the Gulf states haven’t been operating as American puppets for a long time.

    • You mean the foreign jihadist forces that we were funding up until 2 months ago ?
      The ones we paid Eric Prince to recruit and train ?
      get a grip, man.

      • No, I mean the foreign jihadist forces that the US has never funded, and has been working to steer the Gulf states’ weapons shipments away from:

        link to

        The C.I.A. officers have been in southern Turkey for several weeks, in part to help keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, one senior American official said. The Obama administration has said it is not providing arms to the rebels, but it has also acknowledged that Syria’s neighbors would do so.

        You are entitled to you own opinions, sir, but not to your own facts.

        • What facts are those, Joe? Other than some bare assertions, that is, and a snip and a link to an article datelined June 21, 2012, regarding a place and conflict that even Martin Dempsey describes cautiously as “fluid.”

          I’m really curious how sending arms and ammo into a chaotic situation, where affiliations and loyalties and ‘hoods reformulate faster than high-school cliques, can be “managed” to be sure only “moderates” (sic) get ’em. One has to wonder what this all means:

          WSJ 9/02/13,

          “US Still Hasn’t Armed Syrian Rebels,”
          In June, the White House authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to help arm moderate fighters battling the Assad regime, a signal to Syrian rebels that the cavalry was coming. Three months later, they are still waiting.

          The delay, in part, reflects a broader U.S. approach rarely discussed publicly but that underpins its decision-making, according to former and current U.S. officials: The Obama administration doesn’t want to tip the balance in favor of the opposition for fear the outcome may be even worse for U.S. interests than the current stalemate. [See how smart Obama is?]

          U.S. officials attribute the delay in providing small arms and munitions from the CIA weapons program to the difficulty of establishing secure delivery “pipelines” to prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands, in particular Jihadi militants also battling the Assad regime.

          link to

          WaPo, 9/11/13 –

          “US Weapons Reaching Syrian Rebels

          Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has pressed the Obama administration to do more to help the rebels, said he felt embarrassed when he met with Syrians along the Turkish border three weeks ago.

          “It was humiliating,” he said in an interview Wednesday night. “The president had announced that we would be providing lethal aid, and not a drop of it had begun. They were very short on ammunition, and the weapons had not begun to flow.”

          (looks like Sen. Corker wants to be the Charlie Wilson of this war) Any of the same actual terrorists that McCain so buoyantly met with?

          link to

          Please reassure us that those ‘pipelines,’ made up of stealthy, ‘clandestine,’ bribe-greased air and water and truck deliveries, via what are usually described as “shadowy intermediaries,” are at least as leakproof as a Deep Well in the Gulf of Mexico…

          The Telegraph, 10/03, “First Syria rebels armed and trained by CIA ‘on way to battlefield'”, link to

          And all kinds of other stuff reported to the same effect. Over at one can find lots of stuff on how “easy” it is (not) to distinguish, day to day, “bad guys” from good guys. Almost as easy as it was in the spoooks’ involvement in and the still current idiotic war in Afghanistan.

  3. The government of Bahrain is a dictatorial monarchy (ruled by a minority as well) that violates human rights on a gross scale and routinely practices torture. It is a government that consistently refuses moves toward democratization and does not comprehend the meanings of freedom of speech of the right to peaceable assembly. It should not be surprised that much of the outside world expresses solidarity with the pro-democracy dissidents.

    Way past time to withdraw the naval base from Bahrain. It is illogical to maintain relations with that state but not with Iran. Iran even has far more oil.

    There is no objective American interest in allowing the U.S. to be employed by these dictatorships in their task of opposing Shiism. It is their responsibilty to manage their own relations with Iran.

    • “Way past time to withdraw the naval base from Bahrain. It is illogical to maintain relations with that state but not with Iran. Iran even has far more oil.”

      The US naval base in Bahrain is an important asset, as it provides the US Fifth Fleet with a naval presence in a volatile region that it would otherwise not have. Moreover, If the US eventually reaches a reasonable modus vivendi with Iran, there is no reason why the US cannot maintain the Fifth Fleet presence in Bahrain and have relations with Iran that include being a customer for its oil. That Bahrain and Iran may not see eye to eye on certain issues does not preclude the US from having relations with both nations.

      • Yeah, after all, this ain’t just another episode of “Jerry Springer.” There’s National Interests here, folks…

      • Bill,
        to folks who believe that the authority of a government flows from the consent of the governed,
        US support of any of the GCC nations is odious.

        • “to folks who believe that the authority of a government flows from the consent of the governed, US support of any of the GCC nations is odious.”

          I appreciate your idealistic worldview, Brian. Nevertheless, the United States operates in a much grayer world than your binary black-and-white approach suggests. Accordingly, the US must deal with most governments as they are, not as we might wish them to be.

      • I agree that it is quite possible to simultaneously maintain relations with both Iran and Bahrain. However, with the uprising in Bahrain and the chronic instability there, there is a risk that the human rights situation in that country is going to continue to deteriorate in the future. Eventually, it could reach a point where it is counterproductive to the American image and reputation to sustain that facility. There is also the issue of whether frequent military intervention in the Middle East is actually serving the American national interest, or instead inflicting more harm than good upon it.

        • There is hardly what one would call “chronic instability” in Bahrain. In fact, despite the crackdowns, Bahrain is remarkably stable, and it’s Saudi ally will no doubt ensure that it remains so.

          The US Fifth Fleet is primarily a stabilizing force in the Gulf. Aside from Iran, most states in the region welcome its presence.

  4. “There’s National Interests here, folks…”

    I’m pleased that finally you have recognized that fact. There is yet hope.

  5. Few forces have the power to make the Ayatollahs looks preferable by comparison; the Likud and Arab Monarchs have that power.

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