News ID: 194226
Published: 0638 GMT June 06, 2017
‘We must not allow sides to use Iran’s card against each other’

Asefi: Ongoing tensions among Arab nations, tip of the iceberg

Asefi: Ongoing tensions among Arab nations, tip of the iceberg

The decision made by some Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, to sever ties with Qatar is dominating headlines around the world. In an interview with Iranian website, former Iranian ambassador to the UAE and France, Hamid-Reza Asefi, discussed the outcomes of cutting ties between Doha and other Arab countries, as well as Iran’s stance on the issue. Asefi warned that the ongoing conflict is the tip of the iceberg, which could lead to dire consequences in the region. He said Iran should spare no effort to settle the crisis in a bid to prevent the escalation of tensions.

What do the severance of ties between Saudi Arabia and Qatar mean?

The ongoing conflict between Doha and Riyadh has happened twice in recent years. However, the Persian Gulf littoral states tried to prevent the collapse of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council and settle their disputes.

Nonetheless, this time the situation is more complicated and more difficult. The ongoing conflict is completely different and deeper than the previous ones.


Why did Riyadh decide to cut ties with Doha amid the ongoing crisis in the Middle East and how would Qatar reciprocate the move?

The ongoing tension is deeper than the past. This has been attributed to several issues, including Qatar’s approach toward the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood as well as its policy in Yemen.

It is an oversimplification of the issue if some link the ongoing tensions between the Arab nations to comments made by Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani about Iran, Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, the veracity of which he has rejected.

It seems that the tensions are just the tip of the iceberg. Some countries are interested in resolving the dispute through mediation, but the Saudis refuse to accept it.


Are the tensions linked to Donald Trump’s recent trip to the region?

We cannot ignore the impact of Trump’s regional visit on the issue. Once he began his trip I warned that this would plunge the region into tensions and crisis.

The US president’s trip was aimed at milking regional nations. Now, we should see how Trump will react to the situation. It is unimaginable that the conflict would result in a military confrontation without Washington’s approval.

It is also unimaginable that Arab nations decided to cut ties with Qatar overnight.

The root of the conflict pertains to months ago, which was worsened by Trump’s trip.

It remains to be seen what will happen in the future. We should wait for Qatar’s reaction; it has so far tried to calm the situation and avoid harsh rhetoric in order to pave the way for resolving the conflict.


What approaches should Iran adopt?

Tehran should follow the issue with scrutiny and sensitivity.  We should voice concern about escalating tensions among these countries.  This is because if the tensions lead to military confrontations, the whole region would be adversely affected.

If possible, the Islamic Republic should hold talks with other countries to settle the conflict.

Iran should calm the situation without siding with any of the nations involved in the conflict. We must not allow the sides to use Iran’s card against each other because this would complicate the situation.

Meanwhile, no one should turn a blind eye to the plots of the US and Israel, which are trying to increase tensions due to their political and economic interests. The Islamic Republic needs to exhaust all possibilities to resolve the crisis.

The Saudis claim that Qatar’s support for “terrorism and extremism,” its media campaign toward the war in Yemen, the policies adopted by Al Jazeera  network as well as the country’s approach toward Iran have created the ongoing crisis.  Such excuses have made it difficult to resolve the crisis.

The US retains a lot of influence on Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It is not clear whether Washington is willing to help resolve the dispute, or is in favor of its continuation because of its political and economic interests.

On the whole, Iran should exercise restraint and patience and follow the developments with scrutiny. The Islamic Republic must use all its capacity to control the crisis.



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