The Duality in Iranian Rhetoric

  • 22 September 2015

Anyone who has observed Iran’s behavior since the signing of the nuclear deal with the P5+1 in July will be aware of the extent of the duality in the rhetoric adopted by Tehran towards the countries of the region. It ranges between trying to show openness and turn over a new leaf with them on the one hand to intervening in their domestic affairs to destabilize their security and stability on the other. Iran announced that it would start a new chapter in its relations with the countries of the region, and during his visit to Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq in July, its foreign minister said that there is a common will to cooperate and strengthen relations. Yet a month after the visit it raised tensions with Kuwait by announcing two tenders to foreign companies to develop the extension of the Durra oilfield, ignoring Kuwait’s firm rejection of any development projects in the field before the demarcation of their territorial waters.

This duality has appeared also in statements delivered recently by Iranian Assistant Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian calling on the UAE to send food and medicine to Yemen instead of arms, at a time when evidence and facts underline Iran’s responsibility for the aggravation of the Yemeni crisis. Many Iranian officials considered the fall of Sana’a into the hands of Houthi rebels in September last year “an extension of the Islamic Revolution of Iran”. Since then it has continued to defend the Houthis and provide them with support, although it realizes that they have turned against political and constitutional legitimacy in Yemen. The Iranian interventions in many countries of the region are well known to all, and it continues its military support to its allies, as shown in remarks by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif last August, when he declared that his country will continue to strengthen its defense capabilities and provide military support to its allies. Iranian accusations that countries in the region have provoked the crisis are an attempt to blur the truth—its media continues spreading its poisonous materials aiming at instability in the region.

Duality is also apparent in the way Iran deals with the various issues of the region. It claims to rely on cooperation and dialogue to resolve contentious issues, but in fact it resorts to the logic of “imposing a fait accompli”, ignoring the principles of good neighborliness approved by the United Nations and the principles of international law, and does not hesitate to intervene in the internal affairs of many countries in the region under the pretext of protecting so-called ‘oppressed minorities’. Meanwhile Iran rejects any defense of the rights of its own minorities, insisting that it constitutes interference in its affairs.

Iran’s recent contradictory behavior reveals a number of important things. First, Tehran’s has tried to exploit the recent nuclear deal to promote its regional influence, and to impose a fait accompli on the countries of the region, even at the expense of these countries’ interests. Second, it has used various crises in the region to achieve its interests, or what might be called “crisis management”, where Iran is keen to retain some of the papers as tools for maneuvering and exerting pressure, and confirming its importance as a key player in resolving the crises in the region. Third, Iran is seeking to impose its own perceptions regarding issues and crises on the countries in the region, and it denies the right of these countries to launch initiatives or resolve the crises in the interests of all parties. If Iran really wants to open a new page with the countries of the region, it has to give up its contradictory behavior, stop undermining security and stability in the region, and, most importantly, adhere to the principles of good neighborliness and constructive cooperation, in order to promote an atmosphere of security, peace and stability.