Time to Address Real Issues

Time to Address Real IssuesTime to Address Real Issues

The foreign minister said Iran is ready to cooperate with its neighbors to help address “real” issues that “many” have been trying to hide behind a smokescreen.

“We and our neighbors in the region (can) move in a cooperative way to deal with the real issues,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a recent interview with the New Yorker.

Asked to clarify such real issues, he said, “I’m talking first and foremost about extremism and terrorism, which is a menace in the region that threatens everybody.”     

"We see that Daesh (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) is spreading its influence in spite of all the efforts. … Sometimes countries in the region have even helped promote the underlying causes for attraction of new recruits to these organizations."

He noted that "sectarianism" is a major challenge not only to the region but beyond "because the wider global implications of violent sectarianism are extremely difficult to predict now."

Zarif expressed regret that collaboration, as the sole way to resolve issues, is lacking among states in the region. "The only way of dealing with them is regional cooperation, not just on a political level but cultural, educational, and people-to-people contacts, which are unfortunately not on the rise but diminishing."

Improving international relations, particularly those with Persian Gulf states, has always been among Tehran's priorities, Zarif said, adding, "Iran can only prosper in a stable and prosperous neighborhood."

"For us, security in both the Central Asian and Caucasus region, as well as in the Persian Gulf region and in Turkey, Pakistan, and Afghanistan is extremely important."

Responding to a question about the prospect of Tehran-Riyadh ties and how likely would be a meeting with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir to establish constructive cooperation, the top diplomat said, "I have no problem in sitting down with anybody from this region, provided they are not engaged in acts of criminal atrocity against their neighbors."

Zarif criticized the United States for failure to abide by the fundamental principle of the UN Charter asserting that "the threat of the use of force is against international law."

Asked how great he sees the potential for collaboration, coordination and discussion with the United States over the "flashpoints", Zarif said this would be possible only if US officials discarded the language of "force" and "coercion".

"I think the United States would do itself a lot of good if it abandoned this language. I mean, the actual use of force by the United States has not paid any dividends, neither for US policy nor for the American people. It has only cost you as taxpayers a lot of money."