By Maryam Azish

S. Arabia-Qatar political row tip of the iceberg

News ID: 4003931 -
Teheran, Jun. 19 (MNA) – The diplomatic row among Arab countries and Qatar is dominating headlines.

Some experts have warned that the current dispute between Qatar and several other Persian Gulf states is the tip of the iceberg, and could lead to undesirable consequences in the Middle East.

The quarrel between the Saudi axis and the Qatari leaders reached its climax after other Arab states followed suit under the pressure from Riyadh to sever ties with Doha. This apparently happened after the release of some remarks attributed to Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani against Riyadh and its regional policies.

Although the remarks were denied by the Qatari officials shortly after their release, the Saudis and the mainstream media in the kingdom declared that approaches adopted by Doha tend to be the real manifestation of the statements by the Qatari Emir, so they started to put the peninsular country in the Persian Gulf under unprecedented attacks.

Saudi Arabia, along with Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain officially announced on June 5, that they have cut their ties with Qatar and closed their air, ground and sea borders with the gas-rich country. The Saudi move, supported by some states such as Libya and Maldives, was aimed at putting pressure on Doha leaders to make them succumb to Riyadh’s demands; a decision which is a new manifestation of the inflexible and rigid approaches of the new Saudi generation of leaders, showing that logical, calculated or prudent moves should not be expected from the new Saudi rulers, IRNA wrote.

Transparent Talks

Since the start of the dispute the Islamic Republic of Iran has spared no efforts to settle the crisis in a bid to prevent the escalation of tensions. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi expressed hope that the Persian Gulf littoral states would help restore peace by exercising restraint regarding the ongoing development in the region. “Iran is concerned by tensions among its southern neighboring countries in the Persian Gulf region,” Ghasemi said.

While the region and the entire world are still suffering from crises of terrorism, extremism and occupation of Palestine by the Zionist regime of Israel, the rise in tension among neighboring countries is not in the best interest of any state of the region, the spokesman added.

“Iran is calling on all parties of the current dispute in the southern Persian Gulf to learn from lessons of the region’s past bitter experiences, and move towards decreasing tension by avoiding excited reactions and resorting to wisdom and restraint,” reiterated the spokesman. He emphasized that the only way of solving disputes between the three neighboring countries and Qatar is the political and peaceful way through transparent talks.

Doha Hails Iran

On June 10, Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani thanked Iran for supporting resolution of tension between Doha and some other Arab states of the region. The Qatari official called for resolution of all regional problems through dialogue. “As far as our relations with Iran are concerned, everyone wants positive relations with Iran, Iran is a neighbor. The countries of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Persian Gulf have some disputes and concerns, but the strategic choice of all the countries is to maintain dialogue with Iran… and we, in the state of Qatar, support these efforts,” Al Thani said.

Tip of Iceberg

Former Iranian ambassador to the UAE and France, Hamid-Reza Asefi believes that 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,” Asefi added.

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

He said 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,” he said.

In the Saudis’ view, Qatar by supporting groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, opposing naming Lebanon’s Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, and establishing good relations with Iran, is practically neutralizing their efforts to change the balance equity to the detriment of Tehran and in favor of Riyadh; an approach which is considered a cardinal sin by the Saudis and deserves a tough reaction.

In the face of Saudi hostilities, some countries such as Kuwait and Oman, as members of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council have avoided accompanying Riyadh in confronting Qatar, and some friendly states, such as Pakistan, have not cut ties with Doha. A glance at reactions of the citizens of the Arab world in social media and campaigns launched in support of Qatar against the Saudis’ decision to boycott Doha in cyberspace, as well as the position assumed by some countries trying to stay clear of the issue, show that cutting ties with the Persian Gulf Arab state was an immature, futile decision, as it was seen in Saudi Arabia’s severing ties with Tehran, an action not so welcomed by the Muslim countries.

In the current situation, what is important is the failure of the Saudi strategy to turn the Arab and Muslim countries into Riyadh’s satellites. Therefore, the dream of a self-declared leadership in the region and the Muslim world these days more than ever seems to be an ill one. 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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