A Negative Iranian Message to Gulf Neighbors

  • 11 August 2008

While countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council work on building healthy and positive relations with Iran around the concepts of mutual respect and neighborliness, insist on a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis, and oppose military action, Iran issues what can be clearly seen as antagonistic speeches. Iranian discourse contains many negative messages, elicits among the peoples of the Gulf feelings of estrangement, and poses many questions about its goals. The messages have been repeated lately in a fashion that smacks of interference in domestic affairs and have been issued by political and military leaders.

The first message came from the assistant to the Foreign Minister for research, Manucher Mohammadi, at the end of July in which he attacked the political systems in the Arab Gulf states, prompting a response from the Secretary General of the GCC who said the attack was suspicious, antagonistic, and dangerous. The second came from the commander of ground forces in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards who threatened to burn oil platforms in the Gulf if his country were attacked because of its nuclear file. These threats were repeated lately and accompanied by another about closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz where most of Gulf oil exports pass. Naturally, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister considered this latter threat to be a punishment for GCC countries.

There is an ambiguous and contradictory discourse that is emanating from Tehran toward the GCC and causing much confusion and anxiety. While calling for natural and cooperative relations with the GCC, Iran continues to direct threats and negative gestures to its states, which only damages relations, hurts efforts to build confidence, and increases tension and trouble that affect everyone. GCC countries have repeatedly and on many occasions expressed goodwill and a desire in natural and genuine neighborly relations with Iran that are balanced and respectful to ensure Gulf security and the interests of its peoples in development and progress. The ball now is in Iran's court which has to show its goodwill in what it says and does and to convince its neighbors that it is not a danger to them or an instrument that threatens their interests and the stability of their societies.

The Arab Gulf, that region of strategic importance to the world economy, needs the cooperation of all of its states in order to preserve its stability which primarily serves its interests. GCC states acknowledge that and design their policies, positions, and orientation towards that goal. What remains is for Iran to arrive at this conclusion in order for the area to avoid hostilities and troubles for which it has paid dearly for a long time at the expense of its peoples' development and future.