Our brothers in Kuwait always seek the truth, and are very sensitive to any regional threats. Luckily, the damage Iran inflicted on Kuwait ended when a terrorist cell was discovered and its members escaped. Kuwait’s government took action without being advised or incited; it ordered all but four Iranian diplomats to leave the country, and closed all attaches that were proven to be organizing terrorist operations.
It is not strange for Iran to continue its terrorist activities within its borders, as well as in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and even Latin America. The surprise is that Tehran targeted Kuwait, one of the Gulf countries closest to it. Three years ago, Kuwait’s emir visited Iran despite it being a bad time for the Gulf. Three top officials in Kuwait sent telegrams to Tehran congratulating it on the nuclear deal, considering it a positive turning point.
Later, Kuwait welcomed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit. Several cooperation and friendship committees were formed at a time when Tehran’s relations with Riyadh were declining and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was fighting in Syria. Four months after Rouhani’s visit, Tehran cooperated with the Houthis in Yemen.
After a year of openness and positive Kuwaiti policies, security forces uncovered a large amount of weapons possessed by a Kuwaiti terrorist cell of more than 20 people affiliated with Iran. They intended to target Kuwait’s stability despite the country having never been involved in any hostile act against Tehran, not even a verbal one. Whether Kuwait was being politically naive or trying to test Iran’s credibility, it was proved that it is impossible to deal with Tehran without being cautious or detecting potential threats.
Then came the cell’s escape from prison; one of its members is Iranian and the rest are Kuwaiti. Their operation was run from the Iranian Embassy in a blatant aggression against Kuwait’s sovereignty. The IRGC’s wings in the embassy planned the prisoners’ escape and transferred them on speed boats to Iran.
Kuwait is now aware that it was being lenient toward Iran and its affiliates. Its leniency emboldened Tehran and helped it achieve what it failed to in Bahrain, where an attempt to smuggle detained terrorists was thwarted by Bahraini forces during a marine battle at the start of the year.
Kuwait tried to maintain a reasonable political distance from Iran, and we saw the result. So what will happen to Qatar?
Iran’s dangerous interventions in Kuwait and Bahrain bring everyone back to square one. Every Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country should know that only when they are united can they face Tehran, which will not stop targeting them. Qatar should realize this before Kuwait because Doha has served Iran for years by allying with it and supporting extremist opposition groups in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait.
That is precisely why those countries cannot remain silent about Qatar’s irresponsible behavior, which paves the way for Iran to incite regime change. What Doha is trying to do today — strengthening ties with Turkey and Iran — will be a greater burden for Qatar than for others.
Doha chose to take risks by dealing with powers that it will not be able to get rid of in the future. It only did so because it does not want to cooperate with the four countries — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt — that asked it to stop exporting chaos and inciting against them.
Kuwait tried to maintain a reasonable political distance from Iran, and we saw the result. So what will happen to Qatar, which chose to throw itself into the arms of those who harbor ambitions in this rich region?
• Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya News Channel, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, where this article was originally published.