Iran has tried to position itself as a peacemaker after the sudden split between Saudi Arabia and fellow Gulf state Qatar.
On Monday, Riyadh broke relations with Qatar, accusing Doha of cyber-warfare, political manipulation, and propaganda. The Saudis are trying to pressure the Qataris to distance themselves from groups such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, the Maldives, and Yemen’s official Government joined Saudi Arabia in cutting off relations, two weeks after US President Donald Trump visited amid the “Riyadh Summit” of more than 50 leaders. Travel and transport blockades were imposed on Qatar, threatening shortages of food and supplies.
Iran’s relations with Saudi Arabia have long been strained in the region, with Riyadh cutting off diplomatic ties in January 2016. In contrast, Tehran has seen Qatar as an essential mediator of its relations with other countries, even including the US, and the Rouhani Government’s policy of “engagement” — while blocked by other factions within the Iranian regime — saw Doha as a possible bridge back to rapprochement with Riyadh.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Monday:
The solution to differences among regional countries, including the current dispute between Qatar and its three neighboring states, is possible only through political and peaceful methods as well as transparent and explicit dialogue among the involved parties.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif echoed on Twitter:
Neighbors are permanent; geography can't be changed. Coercion is never the solution. Dialog is imperative, especially during blessed Ramadan
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 5, 2017
The Foreign Ministry said Zarif spoke by phone with Turkish, Indonesian, Iraqi, and Omani counterparts.
While the Foreign Ministry held out an olive branch, others in the Iranian regime wielded a stick to denounce Donald Trump and the US.
The chairman of Parliament’s National Security Council, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chided, “The first outcome of US President Donald Trump’s visit to the region was the emergence of divisions among regional countries.”
President Rouhani’s office joined in. Hamid Aboutalebi, the deputy chief of staff, said on Twitter, “What is happening is the preliminary result of the sword dance”, referring to Trump’s participation in traditional Saudi ceremonies.
Aboutalebi also aimed at the promotion of a Saudi-led military coalition during the Riyadh summit:
I had already written that the era of creating coalitions and Big Brothers is over, and political domination, security clannishness, occupation, and invasion is not going to bring about anything other than insecurity.
Today, I am writing that the era of sanctions is over too, and cutting diplomatic ties, closing borders, laying sieges on countries, and ejecting countries out of the self-same coalition, etc. is not the way out of the crisis.
TOP PHOTO: Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi