Editorial: Hopefully not a Franz Ferdinand moment

Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov makes a speech at an art gallery shortly before he was shot in Ankara, Turkey, on Monday. (REUTERS/Ugur Kavas)
Updated 19 December 2016

Editorial: Hopefully not a Franz Ferdinand moment

The assassination of the Russian ambassador in Ankara last night is an awful crime that every civilized person should condemn. After all, diplomatic envoys and missions must at all times remain protected and immune — this should always be the case no matter where we go in the world.
However, we should differentiate between attacks orchestrated by terror-supporting regimes — such as Iran, which did not stop its own thugs from attacking the Saudi Embassy in Tehran earlier this year – and individuals and/or non-state-backed terrorist organizations, such as what seems to have happened in Ankara last night.
Turkey, like every other country on the planet, has a duty to protect diplomatic missions. Yet mistakes happen, and whether we like to acknowledge it or not, we simply cannot protect ourselves against the whims and actions of every madman who decides to commit a crime. So far Moscow seems to have understood this, and it is comforting that it has condemned the attack as an act of terrorism.
Needless to say, those celebrating the attack and propagating sensational material — such as that the attacker shouted “Allahu Akbar” prior to the act — are either misguided or malicious. Regardless of how much the majority of the world disagrees with Moscow over its pro-Assad position, killing an innocent man in no way serves as revenge for what is happening in Syria. Furthermore, Daesh — which many of those celebrating seem to want to think is behind the assassination — is equally responsible for the plight of the Syrian people.
More importantly, what happened in Ankara last night does not help stop the deteriorating situation in Syria. The fact that the attack came shortly before a breakthrough between Turkey and Russia was said to have been reached in terms of an agreement raises serious questions about the intentions of the plotters. Those who planned this awful crime knew exactly how to instantly get attention and news coverage, and seemingly were deliberately trying to poison the waters between Russia and Turkey.
Given that the two countries came close to armed confrontation over the past years, and that the whole Middle East is being redrawn, one cannot help but see much resemblance with the assassination of Franz Ferdinand just over 100 years ago, which ultimately led to World War I.
As such, both countries’ self-restraint is now crucial to avoid further escalation in the region. Furthermore, all concerned parties should soon return to the negotiating table and focus all efforts on ending the ongoing bleeding of Syria. We all know this cannot happen without Moscow’s blessing.

Editorial: Iran must not go unpunished

Updated 16 May 2019

Editorial: Iran must not go unpunished

  • Arab News argues that while war is always a last resort, an international response is a must to curb Iranian meddling
  • US strikes worked well when Assad used chemical weapons against his people

The attacks on Tuesday by armed drones on Saudi oil-pumping stations, and two days beforehand on oil tankers off the coast of Fujairah in the UAE, represent a serious escalation on the part of Iran and its proxies, should the initial conclusions of an international investigation prove to be accurate. 

Riyadh has constantly warned world leaders of the dangers that Iran poses, not only to Saudi Arabia and the region, but also to the entire world. This is something former President Obama did not realize until the Iran-backed Houthis attacked the US Navy three times in late 2016. The recent attacks on oil tankers and oil pipelines were aimed at subverting the world economy by hitting directly at the lifeline of today’s world of commerce. Tehran should not get away with any more intimidation, or be allowed to threaten global stability. 

It was in 2008 that the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz called upon the US to “cut off the head of the snake,” in reference to the malign activities of Iran. Nearly a decade later, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman referred to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the “new Hitler of the Middle East.” We are in 2019 and Iran continues to wreak havoc in the region, both directly and through its well armed proxies. Crown Prince Mohammed was therefore clearly correct when he argued that appeasement does not work with the Iranian regime, just as it did not work with Hitler. The next logical step — in this newspaper’s view — should be surgical strikes. The US has set a precedent, and it had a telling effect: The Trump strikes on Syria when the Assad regime used Sarin gas against its people.

We argue this because it is clear that sanctions are not sending the right message. If the Iranian regime were not too used to getting away with their crimes, they would have taken up the offer from President Trump to get on the phone and call him in order to reach a deal that would be in the best interests of the Iranian people themselves. As the two recent attacks indicate, the Iranians insist on disrupting the flow of energy around the world, putting the lives of babies in incubators at risk, threatening hospitals and airports, attacking civilian ships and putting innocent lives in danger. As the case always is with the Iranian leadership, they bury their heads in the sand and pretend that they have done nothing. Nevertheless, investigations indicate that they were behind the attack on our brothers in the UAE while their Houthi militias targeted the Saudi pipelines.

Our point of view is that they must be hit hard. They need to be shown that the circumstances are now different. We call for a decisive, punitive reaction to what happened so that Iran knows that every single move they make will have consequences. The time has come for Iran not only to curb its nuclear weapon ambitions — again in the world’s interest — but also for the world to ensure that they do not have the means to support their terror networks across the region. 

We respect the wise and calm approach of politicians and diplomats calling for investigations to be completed and all other options to be exhausted before heading to war. In the considered view of this newspaper, there has to be deterrent and punitive action in order for Iran to know that no sinister act will go unpunished; that action, in our opinion, should be a calculated surgical strike.