Iran-Qatar coop can spill over to regional cooperative scheme

TEHRAN, Feb. 22 (MNA) – Stating that the Raeisi administration has taken proper steps to improve Iran's relations with its neighbors, Prof. Entessar said that Iran-Qatar effective cooperation can certainly spill over to regional cooperative schemes.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi traveled to Qatar on Monday on a pre-planned visit and upon his arrival was warmly welcomed by the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. A visit that has attracted a lot of regional and international attention.

The president's visit to Qatar comes at a time when the last time an Iranian president visited Qatar was eleven years ago. Before leaving Tehran for Doha on Monday, President Raeisi told reporters that his visit to Qatar is a step towards activating neighborhood diplomacy, especially with the Persian Gulf states and using the capacities of these states to develop political and economic relations. 

He also expressed hope that the trip will bring positive effects in the promotion of political, economic, and trade relations between regional countries, especially the countries of the Persian Gulf.

In recent years, Tehran-Doha relations have witnessed tangible progress in all areas of economic, political, cultural, energy and border cooperation. This is the result of the attention of the officials of the two countries, who are working to expand and develop bilateral relations and strive to enhance cooperation to the highest levels.

To know more about the issue, we reached out to Nader Entessar, professor emeritus of political science from the University of South Alabama.

Here is the full text of the interview:

How do you see the Iranian incumbent government’s approach towards the country’s neighbors?

So far, the Raeisi administration has taken proper steps to improve and enhance Iran's relations with its neighbors. Prioritizing Iran's foreign policy towards not only its immediate neighbors but also the broader region of Central Asia is long overdue and must be pursued with practical steps.

What are the political, economic, and cultural fields that Iran and Qatar can cooperate with?

There is potential for Qatari investments in various areas in Iran. This is an area that has heretofore not received the attention it deserves. Also, cultural exchanges, tourism, and cooperation in artistic fields are fields that can lead to a better understanding between the two countries. The upcoming World Cup in Qatar may also present an opportunity for both sides to highlight their ties. 
 
Do you see any opportunity for Iran and Qatar to cooperate in the field of energy and what can be the importance of such cooperation?

In some ways, Iran and Qatar are competitors in energy fields and there will always be differences and conflicting interests between the two countries in energy fields. However, there are untapped opportunities for Iran and Qatar to coordinate and cooperate in natural gas production and marketing, especially in view of their shared gas fields. Competition and cooperation in gas and related energy fields can be pursued on two parallel tracks as long as the two sides understand the importance of harmonizing their energy policies.
 
Generally what can be the effects of the two countries’ cooperation in the stability and security of the region? Can this positively affect the relations between Iran and other Persian Gulf Arab states?

Effective and sustained cooperation between Iran and Qatar can certainly spill over to regional cooperative schemes in due time. But, this will require a successful process of confidence-building between Iran and the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf that would be both time-consuming and will require delicate political steps by all parties involved. The security of the region remains volatile and overcoming obstacles to regional security is a daunting task. This is because Iran and the pro-Western Arab states of the Persian Gulf have contrasting perceptions of regional stability and security.

Despite ups and downs in Iran and some other Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, Iran and Qatar have been enjoying good relations. What is the reason?

For the most part, Qatar has pursued a pragmatic and non-confrontational policy towards Iran. Tehran, in turn, has reciprocated Qatar's stance towards the Islamic Republic by respecting Doha's foreign policy orientation and its close ties with the West. Also, Iran's timely and practical support for Qatar when it came under a Saudi-led onslaught has been an important variable in strengthening Iranian-Qatari relations.  

Interview by Payman Yazdani

News Code 184171

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