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Iranian tactics are harmful to region.

The customary definition of an island is a piece of land entirely surrounded by sea.

Bahrain, however, has chosen to define itself somewhat differently, as a land between two seas. It speaks of the unique character of Bahrain and Bahrainis, of its diversity and openness , and its outward looking stance.

Today Bahrain has become more a land between two large neighbours, namely Saudi Arabia and Iran. Where Saudi Arabia extends a bridge of friendship, trade and assistance to Bahrain, Iran seeks to grip it with its claws by throwing a poisoned spear of sectarianism to subdue the people of Bahrain to their nonsense.

These two countries' diametrically-opposed attitudes are not so far removed from when the shah of Iran tried to claim Bahrain for Iran, and King Faisal, through his wisdom and skilled diplomatic team, ably prevented this from happening. Iran's tactics today, however, are far from insidious and harmful not only to Bahrain, but the region as whole.

Surely such an approach of stirring hatred and sectarianism will sooner or later backfire on Iran. Regional events would certainly suggest this. So how does such a country known for its lengthy history of creativity, intelligence and worldliness choose a path of inflicting harm and perpetrating nonsense? Iranians must know that Arabs do not suffer occupiers or intruders for long, be they Roman, British, French or Persian. Bahrain and the Arab world will certainly not stand by to let Iran swallow this island. Iran remains a respected country in the region, but Arabs will fight it tooth and nail if it became an occupier in any form.

Iranians should draw instead on their storied history and civilisation to consider proximity, trade and friendship as a far more beneficial approach. Instead of sowing hatred and sectarianism, it should offer to assist Bahrain, to form growing relationships of trade, banking and co-operation, building multidimensional bridges that will greatly benefit the economies of both Iran and Bahrain. Otherwise Iran will just become a second Israel to Arabs, bandying around its missile and atomic arsenals, sowing hatred and suspicion.

The Bahrain I have just come back from to Saudi Arabia, is a model of efficiency, diversity and approachability. Bahrainis are extremely welcoming people, and so now are their new laws of investment and their efficient new banking system. The woman of Bahrain is equal to her male peers, she contributes equally to the success of her country, and no major social issues cloud the daily exchanges of the population.

Bahrain today is calm, and, while there may still be some undercurrents, the leadership is well-prepared, wisely exploring alternatives and resolving issues rather than simply getting angry. I am impressed.

And I believe that Allah has blessed this land between two seas because it stands as a model of efficiency, diversity and resolving problems with intelligence and composure that is all too rare in our region. Saudi Arabia has given its full trust and backing to its honourable neighbour, building a growing number of bridges and together fashioning a powerful anchor of hope and understanding for us all.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Nov 2, 2014
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