How to win an argument with Iran

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We have an Arab proverb that explains the strategy of nutty children: “He hit me and cried, then outran me to complain!” I remember this every time I face an Iranian or Qatari counterpart in a debate.

Their strategy is simple: They attack you first with whatever they are accused of. Before you list your grievances and their misbehavior, they use your own list against you. By the time you finish your defense, the program time is over, and you are left in the dust in the defendant’s corner.

My strategy is to start with my list before answering theirs. Depending on whether the program host is professionally unbiased, I usually manage to turn the tables on them. Thanks to the new global awareness of what is really happening and who is guilty of what, my task is becoming easier.

A case in point is Iran’s responsibility for recent attacks on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the US embassy in Baghdad. That was either direct as in the case of the four oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz or via proxies, such as the drone and missiles attacks on oil facilities, airports, and towns in Saudi Arabia, and on the US embassy.

You would think all that would be enough to shame the Iranian representatives into admitting guilt, but you would be wrong. Here is an example.

After a long argument by a Hezbollah representative, the news show host asked me: So, has Saudi Arabia finally decided to stop supporting terrorist organizations and join the US-led coalition against Islamist terror?

“What a loaded question!” I objected. “May I, as a journalism professor and a veteran journalist, give you a 101 lesson in professionalism?”

Then, without waiting for approval, I went on to say: “Your guest is accusing Saudi Arabia of sponsoring terrorism, and you treated his claim as an established fact. This is like asking a husband, when did you stop beating your wife. It’s not professional ... It is not fair.”

“You may answer the question the way you like!” he retorted, “But you may not accuse me of being biased!”

“Well, well!” I shot back, “So now you are angry because I criticized your professionalism, and you expect me to tolerate you and your guest’s baseless and outrageous accusations?”

“Sir, could you please just answer the question?” he pleaded.

“You still don’t get it, do you?” I answered. “Yours was not a question. It was a judgment. You are supposed to be an honest and unbiased mediator between your pro-Iranian guest and me. Anyway, since my 101 lesson did not get through, let me answer your guest instead.”

I went on to explain that Saudi Arabia could not possibly be the sponsor of its archenemy Al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

In 1996, it was one of the first victims of terrorism. The Riyadh and Al-Khobar bombings were linked directly to Hezbollah, Iran and Al-Qaeda. Since then, we have paid terribly for the actions of this unholy alliance.

Why was Iran the only country Al-Qaeda never attacked? As the “Daesh” (Islamic State) letter to the Amir of Al Qaeda, Al Zawahiri explained, it was an agreement between Iran and Bin Laden to spare each other in exchange for support and safe passage between the Gulf region and Afghanistan.

Daesh was the creation of pro-Iran, Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki and Syrian leader Bashar Assad to divide their opposition and portray them as terrorists.

As the Minister of Justice admitted on Iraqi TV, he received an Executive Order to release 1,500 Al-Qaeda prisoners, caught by Americans and their allied Sunni tribes, from Iraqi prisons. They went on to form Al-Qaeda and later Daesh in Syria and Iraq.

Iran also is the creator and sponsor of Shiite terrorist groups, like Hezbollah, the Houthis and Iraqi, Pakistani, Afghani and Nigerian Shiite militias.

Every action is met by a reaction that equals it in strength and in the opposite direction. Now, we are in a vicious circle that is getting worse and worse, thanks to Iran’s insistence on exporting revolution and sectarianism to its Arab neighbors.

The news show host seemed not to like my argument and cut me off. Thankfully, I said enough to explain my position to those who care to hear a different point of view. As for Iran’s Arab slaves, they are a hopeless case!

– Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. He can be reached at kbatarfi@gmail.com. Follow him at Twitter:@kbatarfi


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