Iranian Statements Raise Questions

  • 13 June 2007

Everyone acknowledges that GCC countries wish and strive toward promoting good relations with the neighboring state of Iran. Nobody doubts that these countries have expressed their sincere intention of improving their relations with Tehran on several occasions, which is also evident from the rising level of trade, regular diplomatic exchanges and visits, and cooperation in many fields. There is no denying that Gulf–Iranian relations got a fillip with recent visits by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to countries in the region. On the other hand, it is difficult to ignore certain suggestions and undertones emanating from Tehran that run counter to the aims and efforts for enhancing relations.

Prominent among such allusions are the almost simultaneous statements of analogous content made by certain Iranian officials, which contain threats of targeting strategic Gulf locations like oil refineries and power stations, in case the US carries out military strikes against Iran from bases in GCC countries. On close analysis, such statements seem to adversely affect relations between the two sides, and it raises new problems for relations that had just started to improve.

Some Iranian political and ideological circles express their astonishment at what they call “unjustified fears” of GCC States toward Iran, and consider Gulf concerns over Iranian nuclear program, and consequent fears of a nuclear leak caused by flaws in the control systems of a nuclear reactor, completely out of place. However, this apparent astonishment cannot find justification in the face of threatening statements that raise reasonable cause of concern among all Gulf countries. Gulf anxieties toward the kind of language used by Iranian elements feeds on past doubts and experiences, especially as the statements completely disregard the assurances given by GCC States that their territories would not be used as a launching pad for strikes against Iran and they reject the military option for settling disputes over Iran’s nuclear program.

Experts agree that justifications of statements by some Iranian officials, calling for striking strategic targets in Gulf countries, cannot be considered defensible in the light of any objective analysis of established facts, and that they do not conform to recent developments in Gulf–Iranian relations. This is raising optimism among observers of a possible relaxation in stance that may help resolve many of the region’s problems based on good intentions, the disposing of inherited differences and obstacles, which will pave the way for development plans. This could secure the interests and aspirations of the nations of the region and ensure the security and stability after a long period of suffering due to an atmosphere of conflicts, tensions, and chronic crises.