What will the Arab public think?
Aljazeera / Lamis Andoni

Most Arab leaders want the US to tackle Iran, even to wage a war against the country, but evidently do not say so publicly for fear of Arab public opinion and reaction.

Confidential cables by American diplomats in the region, revealed by WikiLeaks, expose weak and fearful Arab leaders who are dependent on US protection against real and imagined fears over Iran's potential possession of nuclear arms and its influence in the Arab world.

Although the hostility of Arab leaders towards Iran is not a secret, the documents published by a number of Western newspapers show that some Arab governments appear more concerned with Iran than Israel; for while Israel is seen as an enemy that occupies Arab land and may cause instability in the region, Iran is feared as a country that could mobilise Arab public support against their leaders.

In their conversations with American officials, Arab leaders refer to Iran as "a snake", "evil" and "an octopus whose tentacles need to be severed" - presumably they are far more cautious in their labelling of Israel when talking to US diplomats.

Establishing Iranian 'emirates'

The fear that Iran could stir internal dissent and even insurgencies centres on two points; firstly its role in countering Israel, mainly through its support for Hezbollah and Hamas, and secondly, its influence on Shia communities in some Gulf states.

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