EghtesadOnline: Persian Gulf countries' cold response to Iran's regional initiatives has its roots in deep-seated mistrust, Tehran's tense relations with the United States and the influence of Saudi Arabia in the Arab world, says a political analyst.
In a recent article published by the Iranian Diplomacy website, Saber Golanbari said there are several reasons behind Persian Gulf states' disregard for proposals made by Iranian officials, which are aimed at bringing the Islamic Republic and its neighbors closer and defusing tensions.
He cited Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's offer to help establish a Regional Dialogue Forum and sign a non-aggression pact with Persian Gulf Arab countries as examples of initiatives that have not been endorsed yet.
Iran has denounced US efforts to set up an international maritime security coalition in the Persian Gulf and insists that regional countries could effectively protect the strategic waterway in cooperation with each other, according to Financial Tribune.
In a tweet on Sunday during a trip to Kuwait, the chief diplomat repeated his offer, saying, "Iran's proposal for Regional Dialogue Forum and non-aggression pact trumps reliance on extraneous actors."
Golanbari, an expert on international affairs, said one of the main factors influencing the situation surrounding Iran's proposals is the "mistrust" between countries on both sides of the Persian Gulf, which cannot be overcome easily.
"In fact, this mistrust is the root cause of all crises in the region and has deepened over time," he said, adding that the situation has aggravated after foreign powers started to strengthen their foothold by taking advantage of the distrust and Persian Gulf states developed closer ties with Israel.
Another issue is that Persian Gulf Arab states, which are all among US allies, believe in the need to keep Iran's influence in check and maintain the regional balance of power, the article read.
Golanbari argues that another important reason for Arab states' cold shoulder to Iran's proposals is the dominance of Saudi Arabia in the region.
"As long as Saudi Arabia does not announce its readiness to study these initiatives, other countries will not be ready to do so because they do not want to be accused of collusion [with Iran]. This is the case even for Qatar that has problematic relations with Saudi Arabia," he said.
The analyst was referring to the fact that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed an economic and diplomatic boycott on Qatar since June 2017 due to its alleged support for terrorism and close relations with Iran. Qatar denies backing terrorism and says the boycott impinges on its sovereignty.
Golanbari added that tensions between Tehran and Riyadh must be seen in the wider context of the animosity between Tehran and Washington.
Close ties between the kingdom and the United States, particularly under Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, do not allow Riyadh to settle its disputes with Tehran on its own and without the involvement of Washington, he wrote.
In addition, the analyst believes Iran should have made these proposals years ago when relations between regional countries and extra-regional powers were not so intertwined and the power structure in Saudi Arabia was different.
“Under the current circumstances, Iran should welcome any positive gesture by regional countries that want to avoid the fallout of heightened Iran-US tensions,” Golanbari concluded.