How Iran could become a really good neighbor

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How Iran could become a really good neighbor

A replica Shahab-3 surface-to-surface missile is on display at a street exhibition of the Iranian army and the paramilitary revolutionary guards. (File / AFP)

The new Iranian government under Ebrahim Raisi has stated that its top priority is to improve relations with other countries in the region. But the Islamic Republic must take several crucial steps to achieve such a goal.

Gulf states are not against good relations with Tehran as long as Iran takes the necessary steps and changes its destabilizing behavior in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman expressed his hope for direct talks with Iran and pointed out to the UN General Assembly that “Iran is a neighboring country and we hope that our first talks with him will produce concrete results in order to trust to build on the basis of respect for sovereignty and “non-interference in internal affairs.”

First, the Iranian regime must change its sectarian agenda in the Middle East and abandon the “divide and rule” tactics that pit Shiites and Sunnis against each other. This means that the theocratic establishment must stop supporting militias and terrorist groups acting on behalf of the Islamic Republic and advance Tehran’s ecclesiastical and ideological interests in other Arab states.

The regime’s policy of sponsoring militias in other nations is a major cause of instability in the region and a blatant violation of national sovereignty.

When it comes to developing relations with Saudi Arabia, the Iranian government must order the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to end its military aid to the Houthis. The IRGC, referred to as a terrorist group by the US, is a major supporter and sponsor of the militia that supplies them with weapons, including anti-tank guided missiles, sniper rifles and rocket launchers.

This means that the Iranian regime must fundamentally change its core mandate, which provides: “The army of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the corps of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards will not only be responsible for guarding and maintaining the country’s borders, but also for fulfilling them the ideological mission of jihad in God’s way; that is, to extend the sovereignty of God’s law to the whole world. “

The Iranian leadership must respect Saudi Arabia’s national security interests. While Yemen poses no threat to national security to the Islamic Republic, it poses a threat to Saudi Arabia as it borders the Gulf state.

The Iranian leadership must respect Saudi Arabia’s national security interests. While Yemen poses no threat to national security to the Islamic Republic, it poses a threat to Saudi Arabia as it borders the Gulf state.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

Unfortunately, since US President Joe Biden took office in January, Houthi attacks appear to have increased and have taken a softer tone towards the Iranian government. Even Western officials have previously acknowledged the escalation, and a senior US defense official told NBC News: “We are certainly aware of a worrying increase in cross-border Houthi attacks from a variety of systems including cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). . “

When it comes to Bahrain and Kuwait, the Iranian government must stop promoting the narratives of individuals or groups who are aggressively causing instability. Bahrain security forces arrested more than 100 people on charges of terrorism and conspiracy to attack government officials. Bahrain accused them of being part of a network set up by the IRGC.

This is not the first time Iran has been caught supporting terrorist cells in the island kingdom. Bahraini officials have previously discovered or dismantled several Iran-backed groups that were planning or had carried out attacks. Similarly, several Iranian diplomats have been expelled from Kuwait for having ties to an “espionage and terrorist cell”. Iran’s cultural and military missions have also been closed in Kuwait.

In Lebanon and Iraq, Tehran has the same sectarian agenda of supporting Shiite militant groups as the People’s Mobilization Forces and Hezbollah. The Iranian regime must end its political opportunism and use countries like Iraq and Syria as proxy battlefields to advance the revolutionary, strategic and geopolitical goals of the ruling clergy.

One military institution is primarily responsible for this – the Quds Force, the elite branch of the IRGC, which is tasked with representing the ideological and political interests of Iran abroad.

Finally, the Iranian regime must address the critical concerns of regional countries about its nuclear ambitions. To improve relations with the Gulf States, Tehran must halt its nuclear program, thereby eliminating the possibility of a nuclear arms race in the region and the strategic threat that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to the Middle East.

In short, if the Iranian leadership’s top priority is to build relationships with regional powers like Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, Tehran must abandon its sectarian agenda, supporting militias and terrorist groups and meddling in the internal affairs of the Gulf states, and also to stop its nuclear proliferation.

  • Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-trained Iranian-American political scientist. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the authors in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News


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