September 29, 2023

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Iran galvanizes regional diplomacy amid Israeli bluster

TEHRAN – In a rare diplomatic move, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian spoke over the phone with five counterparts from five Arab countries amid growing Israeli bluster against Iran. 

Amir Abdollahian’s calls list included the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, and Iraq. The calls came at a time when Israel continues to drive a wedge between Iran and its Arab neighbors after the recent controversial visit of U.S. President Joe Biden to Israel and Saudi Arabia. While Israel sought to portray the visit as a major step toward normalization with Saudi Arabia and coalition-building against Iran, the Arab countries of the region showed little interest in getting on board. 

Despite Israel’s failure to mobilize Arabs against Iran, Tehran was quick to dispel misunderstandings in the region and improve ties with its Arab neighbors. The phone calls of Tuesday were in that regard. 

Amir Abdollahian indicated that the calls were aimed to foil any foreign effort to undermine Iran-Arab relations, among other things. “Today, I spoke over the phone with my brothers the foreign ministers of Kuwait, Emirates, Qatar, Oman, and Iraq. Neighborhood policy is a priority for the Islamic Republic of Iran. We will accelerate cooperation with neighbors and we will not allow any foreigner to stand in the way of regional cooperation,” the Iranian foreign minister said in an Instagram post after the calls. 
He added, “Although I warned all the brothers that the presence of the occupying regime [Israel] in the region will cause instability, I thanked the friends for their tactfulness in their recent effort to foil the ominous plots of this regime during the recent Jeddah summit.” 

Underlining the Raisi administration’s foreign policy in cementing ties with neighbors, Amir Abdollahian said, “We have learned from experience that the interference of foreign countries in this region has always been harmful, and the way to progress and stabilize the region will be the cooperation of the countries of the region.”

This warning featured high in the phone call between Amir Abdollahian and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed given that the UAE was the first Arab country in the Persian Gulf region to normalize relations with Israel. 

Amir Abdollahian told Sheikh Abdullah that the presence of the Zionist regime in the Persian Gulf will cause instability and insecurity, adding that Tel Aviv made an effort to turn the recent Jeddah conference into a regional crisis but thanks to the prudence of the participating countries, issues of regional cooperation, progress and security were underlined at the meeting.

The UAE foreign minister, in turn, underlined the need for expanding relations between Tehran and Abu Dhabi. “For us, peace, stability as well as the good and dignity of Iran, as a neighbor and brother, is highly important, because this will also have a positive effect on our own country and we hope that in the future, we will be able to take longer strides in expanding relations between the two countries”, the UAE foreign minister said, according to a statement by the Iranian foreign ministry. 

The Arab countries of the Persian Gulf are taking steps to improve ties with Iran. The UAE and Kuwait have decided to dispatch ambassadors to Iran; the Iranian foreign minister will soon pay a visit to Kuwait, and the foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia are expected to meet in Baghdad soon. 

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