By Javad Heirannia

Saudi and UAE try to undermine Iran and Qatar wherever and whenever possible: Mehran Kamrava

March 3, 2018

TEHRAN - Mehran Kamrava, a professor of the Middle East Studies in Georgetown University of Doha, tells the Tehran Times that Saudi Regime and the UAE try to undermine Iran (and Qatar) wherever and whenever possible.

Director of the Center for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar also adds “For Qatar, currently the most important friends to have are Iran and Turkey for purposes of commerce and transportation, and Kuwait and Oman for diplomacy and support within the PGCC.”
Following is the text of the interview:

Q: Saudi Regime and UAE have pledged to financially back a five-nation coalition force in the Sahel region of West Africa. What are the reasons behind such funding?

A: I think this is part of their broader effort to use "dollar diplomacy" to win favors with the European powers who are concerned about the Sahel region. All countries use the tools at their disposal to attract friends and allies, and in this case Saudi Arabia and the UAE are using $130 million to ingratiate themselves further to European powers such as France, Germany, Belgium, and Italy.

Q: What is the strategic importance of the Sahel region for Saudi Regime and UAE?

A: There really is no direct or indirect strategic interest for the UAE and Saud Arabia to be involved in the Sahel, except of course the general desire to counter religious extremism. They are involving themselves financially in order to pay for the military efforts of some the world's poorest countries, such as Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali.

Q: One of the reasons as to why Saudi Regime and UAE joined the initiative is to contain the influence of Iran and Qatar in the Sahel region. Basically what are these countries competing for in the Sahel region?

A: I really don't know the answer to this question. In general, KSA and the UAE try to undermine Iran (and Qatar) wherever and whenever possible.

Q: Right after that Saudi Regime and UAE joined G5 Sahel force summit in Paris and pledged their support, Qatar’s emir visited the region to sign trade and economic deals. How much potential do have the Sahel region to help Qatar get rid of the hardship caused by Saudi Regime and its allies?

A: The potential is not much. For Qatar, currently the most important friends to have are Iran and Turkey for purposes of commerce and transportation, and Kuwait and Oman for diplomacy and support within the PGCC. Of course, the U.S. and the EU are important as military and political allies. Anything else is general diplomacy and a positive image around the world.
 

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