Aug 12 2012
|more articles from|
Iran-GCC relations based on geopolitical reality
Sunday, Aug 12, 2012
Dubai: Despite recent developments suggesting Iran and the Gulf ties could be warming up, stark differences remain. The Syria conflict has added tension to Iran’s relationship with Gulf countries, as Tehran pushes for a political solution and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has openly declared support for the Free Syrian Army.
Iran has traditionally interfered in the internal affairs of the GCC, with the continued occupation of three UAE islands, rejecting all calls to refer the issue to the International Court of Justice in Hague.
Besides, the controversial nuclear programme in Iran is creating further divisions. “This means that tension still prevails in Iran-GCC relations,” Mohammad Abbas Naji, an expert in Iranian affairs at the Cairo-based Al Ahram Strategic Studies told Gulf News. At the same time, Saudi Arabia, analysts say, is working to keep the channels with Iran open for religious, geographic and strategic reasons, “Saudi Arabia doesn’t want to see Iran a destroyed country. It wants Iran to be a peaceful neighbouring country,” Wahid Hamzah Hashim, political science professor at the Jeddah-based King Abdul Aziz University, told Gulf News.
On Saturday, Bahrain announced that it has reinstated its ambassador to Iran, Rashid Al Dosari, Manama recalled its ambassador in March last year in protest against Tehran’s “blatant interference” in the its internal affairs. Tehran retaliated by recalling its envoy from Manama.
The Saudi professor agreed with other analysts that the thaw in Iran-GCC ties is more of a “tactic” rather than a real rapprochement under the current circumstances.
However, other political experts played down the recent gestures. They believe the two issues are separate for many reasons. Saudi influence on Yemeni tribes is by far heavier than the Iranian influence in Yemen, and the Turkish and western influence on the Syrian army is more than Saudi Arabia’s, Hashim said. Both sides seem keen to keep their communications channels open amid the increase in western pressure to bring down Al Assad, Iran’s only Arab ally.
“In my opinion, this is not a rapprochement,” Naji said. “I believe this is an attempt not to cut communication channels between the two sides,” Naji told Gulf News.
By Jumana Al Tamimi, Associate Editor
Gulf News 2012. All rights reserved.
© Copyright Zawya. All Rights Reserved.