Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has come up with a proposal for the Persian Gulf states to sign a nonaggression pact in the wake of mounting tensions in the region.
He voiced this initiative in Baghdad on May 25 as he met with the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Mohamed Ali al-Hakim. He also stressed Teheran’s aspirations for having the best possible relations with the Gulf states and a positive stance on any proposals that might bring the tensions down.
— TRT World (@trtworld) May 26, 2019
This statement by FM Zarif came several days after Saudi Arabia’s demand that the world community take a tough stance on Iran and prevent it from “spreading chaos”.
— Foreign Ministry 🇸🇦 (@KSAmofaEN) May 19, 2019
Iranian political scientist and expert on the Middle East, Dr. Emad Abshenass, told UWI Zarif’s proposal proved, in the first place, that Iran was altering its political strategy, which was turning into a brake on the anticipated military operations for the U.S. and its allies, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
“Over the past few months, the U.S. has launched a psychological war against Iran in addition to the economic and political pressures,” Dr. Abshenass said. “By concentrating more ships in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. has generated the atmosphere of a military confrontation that is about to begin in the region. In these conditions, Iran was compelled to revise its foreign policy strategy and to change its course over to a ‘strategic standoff’ from ‘strategic tolerance’. As part of this policy, Iran is seeking to bring it home to the world community that the red-hot situation in the Middle East does not confine to a standoff between the U.S. and itself but has a bearing on the countries in the region, while many other countries across the world will suffer losses alongside with Iran if a full-blown war begins. In some measure, this kind of a political course promulgated by Iran managed to put brake on the U.S. actions, as Washington had to step back and call off several naval ships from the area. On the other hand, however, the Trump Administration is seeding fear and instigating the countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE to wield aggressive policies against Teheran. Washington’s narrative suggests that the U.S. does not happen to be by their side, Iran will defeat them in the Gulf area within a week.”
Still, some countries of the Gulf do not succumb to this frightening rhetoric or are not ready to he edthe Saudi calls for supporting Washington’s anti-Iranian campaign. A number of states will most obviously support the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s proposal. Dr. Abshenass revealed what countries Iran pinned hopes on in this knotty standoff.
“Iran was the first to make steps as it offered the signing of a nonaggression pact and acted as a guarantor of friendship. The Iranians feel alarmed when Arab countries buy huge quantities of weaponry from the U.S. in preparations for a war with their country rather than with Israel. By putting forward the nonaggression pact, Teheran gives a chance to these countries to stay away from wasting billions of U.S. dollars on such purchases. On the other hand, it guarantees quiet and assured security to itself.
“Thus it is impossible to say that one or another specific country will object to the signing of the proposed act. Only selected groups of politicians in Saudi Arabia and the UAE continue occupying an aggressive stance on Iran and are prepared to plunge into a war. On the face of it, a number of politicians in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Iraq realize what the war with Iran in the Gulf will be fraught with, as other countries will sustain damage, too. That is why these four countries are trying on the role of mediators in the de-escalation and prevention of a war between Iran and the U.S. It is especially worthwhile to count on Oman because it has acted as a mediator in conflict settlement in the past. Sadly enough, Qatar and Kuwait do not have a strong will to counteract the U.S. Iraq could also play a very encouraging role in the de-escalation of the conflict.”
It is true that the GCC countries have split into two camps now and some of them – Qatar, for instance – have found themselves literally in the crosshairs. The Qataris might be prepared to try their hand in mediation between Iran and the U.S. but simultaneously they do not counteract NATO forces’ preparations for military attacks from its territory.
Qatari foreign minister made a visit to Teheran recently for talks with his counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif to defuse the tensions in the Gulf area, Al Jazeera said. The goal of the trip was to open up new opportunities for resolution of the growing crisis between Iran and the U.S. and to scale down the current instability.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) May 15, 2019
However, just a week after the visit officials of the Qatari Armed Forces and U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) signed an agreement on procedures for NATO forces operations in Qatar. The signing took place against the backdrop of aggravating tensions around Iran. Qatar is home to the largest U.S. military base in the region, Al Udeid, where about 13,000 U.S. servicemen are deployed and where from the U.S. conducts operations across the entire region.
So, why is Qatar occupying a position of this kind? What circumstances could make it join an armed confrontation with Iran?
Dr. Abshenas believes the Qataris find any resolute steps most difficult to make now. The risk of a military operation by its neighbors – Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain – is still hanging in the air. That is why Teheran understands the motives of its Arab neighbor and the restrained diplomacy on Doha’s part.
“To understand Qatar’s position towards Iran, it is important to consider the general situation the country has found itself in,” Dr. Abshenass said. “That small country is under siege by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain while Iran offers the only pathway out of the blockade. Naturally, Qatar maintains good relations with Iran. But it does not have the military power to stand up against the U.S. The Qataris feels fearful over stronger support for Teheran, since the U.S. will give the go-ahead to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain for opening hostilities against them then. In a situation as it is, Doha is trying to create a balance through the U.S. for rendering the military threat neutral. For this reason, it is compelled to strike a deal with the Americans and to accept the deployment of their forces on its territory. The U.S. uses Qatar to serve its anti-Iranian interests, like it does in the case of Saudi Arabia. Washington uses Qatar on the psychological, political, financial, and military plane. The country is really at bay today. Teheran understands full well why its Arab neighbor has to fulfill its obligations to the U.S. and NATO. What really matters is that Qatar has not come up with an anti-Iranian stance to date. But unlike Turkey (which is a NATO member-state), the Qataris do not have enough power to say ‘no’ to the U.S.”