Ex-diplomat suggests Iran should diversify its relations 

December 15, 2020 - 11:59

TEHRAN – A former diplomat believes that Iran should diversify its relations with the outside world.

“Iran should a ‘diverse basket of relations’ with different countries,” Ghassem Moheb-Ali tells IRNA in an interview published on Monday.

He points to developments in the West Asia region and the imminent transition of power from the Republicans to the Democrats in the U.S., saying active regional players in West Asia (Middle East) and extra regional powers, such as the U.S., Russia, China and European countries, are seeking to play their role in the region.

With regard to developments in the U.S. and a possible change in Washington’s policy in West Asia, these players are seeking to “promote” their status or lessen “likely losses or costs”, says Moheb-Ali, the former Iranian Foreign Ministry director general for West Asia affairs.

Arab-Israeli coalition against Iran

The former diplomat says certain governments such as Saudi Arabia, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are worried about the incoming Joe Biden administration and they think that Biden will return to the JCPOA (the official name for the 2015 nuclear deal) or Iran and the U.S. will reach a new agreement and this has caused Donald Trump’s allies in the region to “get closer to each other”. 

“These countries have formed a coalition that its purpose is to discourage the Biden administration to return to the JCPOA, or if it intends to return to the JCPOA or reach a new agreement, it would meet their demands or interests and consider their views.” 

Biden served as vice president in the Barack Obama administration.

The former Foreign Ministry official describes the situation in the West Asia region dynamic and says, “The Zionist regime, Saudi Arabia and certain elements of the Trump administration such as Pompeo like to create a new crisis or clash in the Middle East so that the next American government would not be able to fully materialize its policies or spend a lot of its time and energy for resolving it.”

Arab states highly skeptical of Biden administration 

Arab countries are highly pessimistic about the Biden administration and are fearful of his possible policies as the president-elect has announced to change foreign policy toward these countries and that his government will not back the Saudi-led war on Yemen and will stop logistical and intelligence support for the coalition, the former diplomat argues.

The Saudi-led war on Yemen which started in March 2015 has created the worst humanitarian disaster in the modern history. It has pushed more than 15 million people to the verge of starvation and displaced millions.

Moheb-Ali says the Democrats have announced that they will not give “carte blanche” to countries such as Saudi Arabia and that Riyadh will not be able to do whatever it wished during the Trump era.

“Therefore the U.S. will not sell arms to Saudi Arabia like the past and will put observation of human rights as main criterion in United States’ relations with other countries.” 

Contrary to Moheb-Ali’s argument, an Assistant professor from Coastal Carolina University (CCU), rules out any major change in U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia under Biden's presidency as the kingdom has been a close U.S. ally for several decades.
“Saudi Arabia has been a close ally for several decades, so I would not expect any major changes in the U.S. position,” Christopher J. Ferrero tells the Tehran Times.
 
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on December 5 a resolution to a bitter dispute with Qatar seemed "within reach" after Kuwait announced progress towards ending a row that Washington says hampers a united Persian Gulf front against Iran.

The United States and Kuwait have worked to end the dispute, during which Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt have imposed a diplomatic, trade, and travel embargo on Qatar since mid-2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner held talks in Doha in early December following a visit to Saudi Arabia.

"We have made significant progress in the last few days thanks to the continuing efforts of Kuwait but also thanks to strong support from President Trump," Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud told a Rome conference via videolink, according to France 24.

Moheb-Ali says the move to engage Qatar shows that the Saudi kingdom wants to just focus on certain issues in order to prevent volatility in its foreign policy.
 
The former diplomat says in his second term as president, Barack Obama did not have a good relationship with certain Persian Gulf Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, and “these countries think that the administration of Biden will make a return to the policies of those days.”
 
“The littoral Persian Gulf Arab countries think that the administration of Biden will return to supporting civil movements. This is the same policy that the administration of Obama adopted during the Arab Spring while the relationship between the Trump government with these countries was based on signing economic deals.”

He adds certain PGCC states do not like Biden to rejoin the JCPOA and that is why they are trying to “reduce their differences” and deal with Iran and the U.S. with a “united position”.  

Erdogan has been filled with illusion since the Arab spring 

Asked about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s approach toward developments in the region, Moheb-Ali says Erdogan’s mind was filled with an illusion which dated back to about 100 years ago, an indirect reference to the Ottoman Empire.

With such an illusion the Erdogan government founded its policies based on Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamism and pan-Turkism which their merger has created a kind of “ambition” in Ankara. 

The former Foreign Ministry director general for West Asia affairs says it is based on such an ambition that Turkey has been interfering in Libya, Egypt, and Syria and even playing a role in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue to find a foothold for itself and realize “its old wish” to extend Turkey’s influence that would even extend to the Caucasus and Central Asia.

On the effects of Trump’s foreign policy on West Asia, he said the Trump administration weakened NATO and by following unilateralist approach it undermined multilateralism and in such a situation Turkey as a NATO member found an opportunity to develop its relations with Russia and also tried to extend its influence in West Asia.

PA/PA

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