Why the UAE's Position on Iran Is Not Particularly New

I've been getting a lot of mail about the remarks made by U.A.E. ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba earlier today in a session with me at the Aspen Ideas Festival. The ambassador spoke bluntly about the threat posed to his country by Iran, and he suggested that the idea of Iran going nuclear is worse than the idea of a military strike on Iran to keep it from going nuclear.

Some of those who have written me have expressed surprise at this, but, as much as I'd like to claim a big scoop here, the ambasador's position, though stated more plainly, and publicly, than usual, is the standard position of many Arab states. It is not only Israel that fears the rise of a nuclear Iran; the Arabs, if anything, fear such a development to a greater degree. The Jews and Arabs have been fighting for one hundred years. The Arabs and the Persians have been going at for a thousand. The idea of a group of Persian Shi'ites having possession of a nuclear bomb scares Arab leader like nothing else -- it certainly scares them more than the reality of the Jewish bomb.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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