13:49 GMT +314 December 2019
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    Gulf Nations Turn Away From Saudi Arabia, Want to Normalize Ties With Iran

    © AFP 2019 / ATTA KENARE
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    Gulf countries are discontent with Saudi Arabia's policy in the Middle East. They are turning to cooperation with Iran which has always been one of the key political and economic powers in the region.

    Kuwait expressed willingness that ambassadors of Gulf nations return to Tehran and resume their diplomatic mission, the Saudi newspaper Al-Hayat reported.

    The newspaper cited Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Jap-Allah. In particular, he said: "Kuwait is waiting for the moment when ambassadors of the Gulf Cooperation Council nations will return to Tehran. But the initiative fully depends on Iran and its regional policy."

    Gulf monarchies understand that the Iranian market is very important for their economies.

    Shoeib Bahman, a prominent Iranian political analyst and specialist on the Middle East, said that the statements of Kuwaiti officials can be considered in four aspects.

    First, each of the Gulf Cooperation Council nations is interested is having stable diplomatic relations with Iran because all of them pursue their national interests in the region. What is more, many of these countries have maritime borders with Iran and they cannot be isolated from their neighbor, the analyst told Sputnik.

    Second, the Council members understand that Iran is one of the key players in the region. It has much economic, political and military influence in the Middle East. These countries want to have normal ties with Iran, but without diminishing his regional role.

    Furthermore, some of the Council members have territorial disputes with Saudi Arabia. Riyadh seeks military dominance in the region, and this has sparked concerns among other players. This is why these countries are now turning to Tehran, Bahman explained.

    Finally, after a final nuclear agreement was reached between Iran and the West, European companies and investments rushed into the Iranian market. Regional players are following the example and want to develop economic ties with Iran.

    All of the above has pushed the Council to revise its stance toward Iran, the analyst concluded.

    The assumption was shared by Iranian journalist and expert, Emad Abshenass. According to him, many of the Gulf Cooperation Council members have admitted their policy towards Tehran was wrong.

    "They understood that from the very beginning their policy towards Iran was wrong, especially when it comes to Saudi Arabia. Historically, Iran has had much influence in the region. But unlike many Western countries and Saudi Arabia, Tehran never meddled in domestic affairs of other regional players," Abshenass noted.

    He also explained that only Saudi Arabia and Bahrain has cut off diplomatic ties with Tehran.

    "Not all the Council members express solidarity with Saudi Arabia in its course towards Iran. Such countries as Qatar or Kuwait could have already returned their ambassadors to Iran but they are afraid of Riyadh. In fact, there are no obstacles for this from Tehran," the expert pointed out.

    However, the situation is more complicated when it comes to Saudi Arabia, he added.

    "Saudi Arabia and Iran could restore diplomatic relations. But to make this happen, Riyadh would have to abandon its wrongful policy towards Tehran, including stop sponsoring terrorism in the Middle East," Abshenass said.

    In January, after Saudi Arabia executed prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr Iranian protesters attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran and a consulate in Meshhad. In response, Saudi Arabia and then Bahrein broke off diplomatic ties with Iran. The United Arab Emirates downgraded relations with Tehran and decreased the number of Iranian diplomats. In turn, Kuwait and Qatar called off their ambassadors from Iran.

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    Tags:
    Middle East, diplomatic relations, cooperation, tensions, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Saudi Arabia, Iran
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