By Javad Heirannia

Al-Saud are valuable for Trump when they pay money: Adib-Moghaddam

October 1, 2018

TEHRAN - Professor Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Chair of the Centre for Iranian Studies at the London Middle East Institute believes that for the Trump administration, as for most other countries, the al-Saud are only of value when they pay.

Professor in Global Thought and Comparative Philosophies and Chair of the Centre for Iranian Studies at the London Middle East Institute, also adds that “The current efforts to bring Qatar back to the fold are rather more directed at creating a joint front to balance against Iran's regional power.”

Here is the full text of the interview:

Q: Camp David meeting is scheduled to be held this autumn in the United States to resolve the crisis in Qatar. Can this American initiative lead to solving this crisis?

A: None of the initiatives that the Trump administration has pursued to resolve this crisis have been successful. As I have repeatedly indicated since Trump assumed office in January 2017: This President couldn't be a bigger blessing to the challengers of the United States in the international system, especially Russia and China, but also Iran. He is mercurial, feeble and impulsive. This is why the political class in the U.S. is so nervous. They know that this President has weakened the position of the country almost beyond repair. The fall-out of the crisis over Qatar which Trump initially fuelled by likening Qatar's behavior to terrorism, has been too severe to patch it up with a few meetings. The erratic changes in the U.S. attitudes which turned from indicting Qatar for funding terrorism to hailing the country as an ally in combating terror movements does not bode well for any serious diplomacy. Trump acts like a market merchant in international affairs. He is always out to sell something to the highest bidder. This mentality is coarse and undeducated, because it sells out U.S. National interests and the interests of anyone allied to the country. The crisis over Qatar is a case in point: Trump's outrageous comments towards the Canadian government and the EU are equally indicative for his primitive and rather hysterical approach to international diplomacy. There is, of course, always also an opportunity with a leader like this: If Iran continues to steer the ship calmly in these rocky waters, the country will emerge out of this recent bout of confrontation initiated by the U.S. government with renewed strength and global prestige. At that time, Iran's domestic politics have to be adjusted to fully capitalise upon a favourable international climate. First and foremost, Iran needs to continue to work on its human rights record and public accountability of governmental institutions in close liaison, as I have always argued, with the country's most important partners in the European Union.

Q: Some believe  the reason that United States is at the head of the initiative to solve the crisis in Qatar is Showing Washington's dissatisfaction with Riyadh to solve regional problems. What do you think?

A: For the Trump administration, as for most other countries, the al-Saud are only of value when they pay. The current efforts to bring Qatar back to the fold are rather more directed at creating a joint front to balance against Iran's regional power. Beyond the oil question, Saudi Arabia never really was a strong strategic partner for the United States, not least because no one wants to follow the Saudi model in the Arab world. The Arab intelligentsia knows very well, that the al-Saud monarchy has probably been the most consistent anti-democratic force in Arab affairs. This is why leading opponents of the Saudi state, for instance Madawi al-Rasheed, have recently called for regime change in the country. In support of such voices, I would like to add that there is no alternative to democracy, social emancipation and freedom in West Asia and North Africa. Iran too has to learn the lessons of history with patience, yet with a determining march towards a system that represents all Iranians, inside and outside of the country.

Q: According to the terms of Saudi Arabia and its allies, Is Qatar ready to give points to the opposite side? If so, what areas may there be a compromise?

A: So far, the Trump administration had to repeatedly postpone any meetings for reconciliation. For any successful diplomatic negotiation, political science teaches us, there needs to be a) a competent and neutral chief negotiator - the Trump administration does not play this role and b) a negotiating process that ensures the benefit for all stakeholders in an equal manner (positive-sum game) which is not the case here as the position of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain has been largely uncomprimising and rather insulting to Qatar.

Q: According to U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, how can Washington resolve the crisis to keep the two sides happy?

A: U.S. relations with these two actors are largely determined by U.S. interests, so there has never really been a concerted effort to forge a reciprocal arrangement. In the absence of a comprehensive settlement, the Trump adminstration will be content to pursue the economic calculus that underlies the country's relationship with countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia. As long as they pay in treasure, oil and gas, they will find a partner in any capitalist society, in particular the United States of course. Whether or not such a client-patron relationship is sustainable indefinitely is - of course - another question.  
 

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