Iran to Keep Pushing for Regional Dialogue

In order to find win-win solutions to conflicts, regional states should develop a working regional mechanism rather than laying more bricks in the wall of division
Mohammad Javad ZarifMohammad Javad Zarif

Iran's top diplomat said Tehran will continue to promote dialogue in West Asia and work toward a regional security arrangement, believing they allow for "win-win" solutions to address lingering standoffs and security challenges in the region exacerbated by the meddling of outside powers and the wrong approach of their regional allies.

In an article published by the Atlantic magazine on Monday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran will not be disappointed with the fact that its repeated calls for peaceful solutions to regional issues have been ignored.

"On numerous occasions, we offered plans, ceasefires and negotiations to bring about an end to armed conflicts [in the region]. Almost all our offers fell on deaf ears," he wrote.

"A meaningful restoration of peace and stability to the ... region hinges on the promotion of mutual understanding and regional security cooperation, which some of our neighbors have so far rejected," he added.

Zarif was referring to Saudi Arabia and its allies, which are at odds with Iran, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman over regional disputes.

The top diplomat said Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf neighbor the UAE have been trying to perpetuate the fallacy that Iran is the root of all problems in the region and must be confronted before it destabilizes the entire world, while the evidence for these claims are "nonexistent".

"Iranian 'aggression' is a myth, easily perpetuated by those willing to spend their dollars on American military equipment and public relations firms, and by those promising to protect American interests rather than those of their own people," he wrote.

Zarif said Iran's regional affairs are Iran's business, but it does not mean Iran interferes in the affairs of its neighbors.

"We share borders, waters and resources; we fly through each other's airspace. We [cannot be uninterested] in how our neighbors affect the part of the globe where we make our homes," he said.  

"Our interest in our region's affairs, though, is not malevolent. We do not desire the downfall of any regimes in the countries that surround us. Our desire—in principle and practice—is that all the nations of the region enjoy security, peace and stability."

***Insisting on Wrong Course Not Useful

Zarif said those who blame Iran for the chaotic region know it well that no country has done more than Iran to fight the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group, the biggest security challenge in the region in years.

"Ironically, though, it is they who have waged war on their fellow Arab nation of Yemen, invaded Bahrain, embargoed their kin in Qatar, funded and armed terror groups in the war in Syria, and supported a military coup against an elected government in Egypt, all the while denying the most basic freedoms to their own restless populations," he wrote.

After the July 2015 nuclear deal, Zarif said, Iran's neighbors could have pivoted back toward Tehran, but they did the opposite and doubled down on their hostility toward Tehran.

"Fearing shame or failure, they may find it difficult to back down. But insisting on the wrong course won't make it right," he wrote.

Zarif said he believes Iran and other regional governments can agree on "win-win" solutions that do not result in the defeat for any side.  

"There's no reason we can't cooperate. To achieve this outcome, we should be erecting a working regional mechanism rather than laying more bricks in the wall of division," he said, noting such a mechanism could greatly contribute to the promotion of stability and progress in the region.

"Iran will, in the meantime, continue on its own path of dialogue, mutual respect and understanding," he concluded.


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