Need to Broaden Regional Relations After IS Defeat

The Arab League headquarters in CairoThe Arab League headquarters in Cairo

Iran needs to expand relations with all Arab states in the region to foil the Saudi propaganda portraying Iran as the domineering regional force after Tehran helped successfully end the reign of the Saudi-backed self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria, a Middle East expert said.

"By forging an anti-Iran Arab bloc, Saudi Arabia is trying to inculcate the false idea of a destabilizing Iran that meddles in others' affairs by repeating this again and again," Ahmad Hosseini also wrote in a recent article for the news website Iranian Diplomacy.

Pointing to the anti-Iran resolution released during the recent Arab League summit in Cairo, Hosseini called on Iran's Foreign Ministry to engage every Arab country to explain the destructive role of Saudi policies in the region.

"Many Arab states have their own issues with Saudi Arabia," he said, adding that past developments in the region have demonstrated the irrationality of Saudi policies.

Arab foreign ministers allied with Saudi Arabia, who attended the summit in Cairo, delivered a tirade of criticism against Iran and its ally Hezbollah, contending that Tehran was destabilizing the region.

They said they planned to "brief" the UN Security Council on Iran's policies in the region.

Lebanon and Iraq stated their reservations about the harsher parts of the resolution.

Fueled mainly by the US-imposed perception that Iran is becoming a powerful country eclipsing its ally Saudi Arabia, which considers itself the big brother of Arabs, has sought to pressure all Arab states it deems as too close to Iran and expects all Persian Gulf countries to march in lockstep.

It is widely believed to have orchestrated Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri's resignation—currently shelved—to force the Arab nation to fall into Riyadh's orbit.

The oil kingdom imposed a land and sea blockade on Qatar after the tiny emirate refused to toe the Saudi line and accommodate its demand that Doha contain its relations with Iran, among other things. The siege has backfired as many—even western allies of Riyadh—have decried the irrational move and Doha strengthened its relationship with Tehran.

The Saudi regime has also mounted a bloody war against its neighboring Yemen, which has claimed the lives of 13,000 people and made millions suffer from starvation and cholera. It is fighting the Houthi fighters who ousted the Riyadh-backed president Abd-Rabbu Mansur Hadi, because it believes the Houthis are too close to Iran.

"Tehran must engage with all Arab states to demonstrate that the Saudi regime's policies have set the Muslim countries on fire and not Iran," Hosseini said.

"Exposing the dangerous Daesh [an Arabic acronym for IS terrorist group] and takfiri movements and explaining it [to the Arab public and statesmen] would reveal the true nature of the adventurist Saudi regime."

The Mideast expert noted that Pakistan, Egypt and Sudan are partly aware of realities regarding the Saudi regime and have distanced themselves from it.

Takfiris are hardliners who accuse any Muslim not following their extreme interpretation of Islam as heretics punishable by death.

  Unfinished Job

Pointing to developments in Syria after the recent fall of IS, Hosseini said, "Things have not ended certainly. We have now reached the arduous stage of political talks. Iran endured all the hardship to reach this point and must now prudently follow its national interests at this stage."

Iran should not allow those who could not gain anything on the battlefield now achieve their objectives through politics, he stressed.

The expert described Iran-Russia-Turkey cooperation regarding the Syrian war as an approach that could even become a role model for resolving other issues in the region.

"Cooperation—even when there are disputes—is a model that has shown its effectiveness," he said, adding that the Syria talks could have a direct effect on resolving the Yemen and Qatar crises as well.

Iran and Russia, allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Turkey, which has backed some of Assad's opponents, have joined forces to sponsor talks between the government and the opposition in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana. They also act as guarantors for the establishment of four "de-escalation zones"—agreed upon during the same talks—across Syria.

The trio has recently supported a proposal—sponsored by Russia—to hold a "Syrian people's congress" that will bring together government and opposition figures to draw up a roadmap for post-IS Syria.

The success of the talks has overshadowed the UN-sponsored talks held in Geneva where the Syrian opposition—backed by Riyadh—have adopted unreasonable demands that have yielded nothing on the ground.

"Disputes settled through talks have put Saudi Arabia and its allies under pressure [to accept that] resolving crises in the region is not [possible] by ignoring the realities and making wars, but rather by adopting a civilized and humane approach," Hosseini concluded.


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