MPs: Foreign Ministry Should Pursue Active Regional Diplomacy

MPs: Foreign Ministry Should Pursue Active Regional DiplomacyMPs: Foreign Ministry Should Pursue Active Regional Diplomacy

Lawmakers have called on the incoming Foreign Ministry to place "active regional diplomacy" high on its agenda to help defuse the tense situation in the Middle East.

President Hassan Rouhani, who was reelected in May, presented his ministerial nominees to the Majlis on Tuesday. Mohammad Javad Zarif, a veteran diplomat and the chief negotiator of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was proposed, as anticipated, to take the helm of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a second term.

The Majlis has a week to vet the hopefuls who will then appear before parliament to present their plans for securing the confirmation votes.

In a recent talk with ICANA, lawmaker Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a member of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, called on the next foreign minister to make efforts in easing tensions facing the Middle East, saying, "Through active diplomacy, Iran should not allow its surrounding area to become stormy."

  Need for Focusing on Region

Falahatpisheh said the Foreign Ministry devoted most of its attention in the past four years on interactions with international players, the fruit of which was JCPOA, but it should now embark on a more regional-oriented policy, as the mayhem created in the region cannot get exacerbated.

The Middle East is now experiencing one its most tumultuous era with the self-styled Islamic State terror group wreaking havoc on Iraq and Syria, Saudi Arabia staging a bloody war in Yemen and an unprecedented Saudi-led siege of Qatar.

The Middle East cannot tolerate another war and regional countries have come to the conclusion that they must start "tactical negotiations", he said. The lawmaker pointed to the fact that Riyadh, Iran's regional adversary, has tried to send some positive signals to Tehran in recent months, saying, "these messages should be taken into consideration."

In the past week, Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia has given Shia majority Iran some signals that it might be willing to change tack. On July 31, the prominent Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr visited Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. The Shia-Sunni encounter had added significance, as Wahhabi-inspired Al Saud has tried to stand against the Shias rather than negotiate with them in recent years.

Wahhabists are hardliners who accuse Muslims, especially Shias, not following their extremist interpretation of Islam as apostates.

The meeting was given greater attention as many observers expressed shock at suddenly seeing Zarif and his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir shaking hands, initiated by the Saudi side, in Istanbul on July 1.

The top diplomats were in the Turkish city to take part in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's extraordinary meeting on latest developments in Beit-ul-Moqaddas.

"Our diplomacy should be based on reducing tensions in the region," the lawmaker concluded.

Many analysts, however, have said too much should not be read into Riyadh's signals unless it adopts a modified policy in practice.

Lawmaker Mohammad Javad Koulivand said Iran's diplomatic corps should not focus only on politics, but also on economy.

"The next foreign minister should put economic diplomacy on its agenda too," Koulivand said.

After suffering for years under severe western sanctions over its nuclear program, Iran managed to obtain relief from the penalties under the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.

Tehran is now seeking to take advantage of the breakthrough agreement to develop its international commercial ties to help uplift its underperforming economy. In this context, the role of the Foreign Ministry is expected to figure high in efforts meant to help expand foreign ties and trade.

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