Tensions have recently increased between the pro-Western, moderate Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and the Iranian-Syrian axis, which supports Hizbullah, Hamas and the resistance in Iraq. Saudi Arabia and Egypt accused Iran and Syria of attempting to destabilize the region by interfering in the internal affairs of Arab countries and nurturing the resistance movements in Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories. They also accused Syria of dividing the Arab ranks and helping the non-Arab Iran to take over the Middle East, to the detriment of Arab interests.
Syria and Iran, for their part, accused Saudi Arabia and Egypt of being pro-American and pro-Israeli and of pursuing a conciliatory policy aimed at undermining the activity of the resistance movements. Recent political initiatives by Saudi Arabia – namely, the November 2008 Interfaith Dialogue Conference in New York, and the efforts to promote the Saudi peace initiative – were portrayed as attempts to achieve normalization with Israel and to deny the Palestinians' right of return. Saudi King 'Abdallah was branded by Syria as an "infidel" and "collaborator with the Imperialist Satan," while Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was called a "traitor" and a "tyrant" who should be assassinated like the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.
The prevailing tensions between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, on the one hand, and Syria and Iran, on the other, have intensified further following the recent terrorist attacks in Lebanon and Syria, with Syria accusing Saudi Arabia and the Lebanese March 14 Forces of supporting fundamentalist organizations in Lebanon, such as Fath Al-Islam, which, they claimed, was responsible for the September 2008 terrorist attack in Damascus. In response, Saudi Arabia and the March 14 Forces stated that it was Syria that had created and nurtured Fath Al-Islam, with the goal of undermining Lebanon's stability and regaining control over it. They contended that the Damascus attack had been aimed at creating a false impression that the Syrian regime was also suffering from terrorism.
Conflict also arose between Egypt and Hamas, after Egypt opened its border to Gaza pilgrims en route to Mecca but Hamas subsequently prevented them from reaching the border. This crisis, too, developed into a wide-scale conflict between Egypt and Saudi Arabia vs. Syria and Iran. Egypt accused Hamas of harming the Palestinians even more than Israel is, thereby promoting the interests of Syria and Iran, who are anxious to perpetuate the Palestinian problem rather than resolve it. Syria, Iran, and Hamas accused Egypt of being responsible for the siege of Gaza and of not acting as a neutral mediator between the Palestinian factions. In Iran, there have even been calls to topple the Saudi and Egyptian regimes.
The following are three reports on the recent inter-Arab tension:
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