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Iran's Spies in the Gulf - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Despite the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Tehran and its political isolation, freedom of movement between Iran and the six Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] countries has not stopped. Visits take place on a daily basis, the majority of which are Gulf Arab businessmen and students traveling to Iran, however Iranians also travel westwards across the Gulf, and this includes those who are using the Gulf to travel to other parts of the world, such as merchants who transferring boats full of carpets, fish, and caviar.

Despite the quiet hostility and the cold war that is taking place between the extremist Iranian regime and the Gulf regimes, a thin line continues to tie the two Gulf shores together allowing the people of the Gulf the ability to travel and serve their own interests. However the discovery of an Iranian spy cell in Kuwait confirms suspicions that Tehran has not creased sending its spies to slip in undetected amongst the [Iranian] businessmen, students, and travelers, and that they recruit local citizens who fall into the clutches of this extremist religious military regime.

The discovery of this Iranian spy cell in Kuwait has brought the debate about relations with Tehran to the forefront once again, and the question is should we sever ties with Tehran so that the Iranian authorities realize that they will be the biggest loser if their major gateway to the world becomes closed to them? Iran is able to operate through other crossings points, such as Turkey, Syria, and Pakistan, however this cannot provide Iran with the same [transport] capabilities as provided via Dubai, Kuwait, and Bahrain, which represents their major corridor to the world.

Regardless of the level of anger that we demonstrate towards what happened in Kuwait, the Iranian regime will not stop using its airlines companies, banks, and commercial cooperation in espionage activities, because this is the nature of the Iranian regime which highly values its intelligence operations, and which looks at the spy cells that it has spread throughout the region as being a political arm and an advanced military bastion. In Tehran’s hostile statements towards the US, it has not hidden its intention to target the Gulf States should clashes break out between the two countries. Iran is aware that the Gulf has strong international interests and considers the region to be a soft target and is therefore seeking to use this in order to exploit its opponents, threatening that in the event of a US attack on Iran, they will retaliate by attacking the Gulf States.

Iran has previously attempted to attack Saudi Arabia in 1987, losing two fighter jets at sea, although they only officially acknowledged losing one. Iran also launched a violent war to attack any oil tankers trading with Gulf States, particularly Kuwait, forcing these tankers to raise the US flag and travel under the protection of US Naval Forces. In addition to this, Iran has been implicated in a number of terrorist operations, and today continues to play host to elements of Al Qaeda following the US war in Afghanistan.

Iran’s history of provocation has resulted in Gulf States being unable to trust the possibility of peaceful relations with Tehran, as they cannot help but suspect the presence of Iranian spy cells on their soil. The two sides are in a state of cold war that has been ongoing since the Iranian Revolution took place in 1979. As for the Iranians, they believe that this is a one-sided war, as the Gulf regimes do not have a counter political agenda, nor do they spend spy cells or sleeper cells onto Iranian soil.

Does Iran’s reliance upon a policy that paves the way for war with the Gulf States benefit Tehran? The truth is that the Iranian regime’s expenditure and effort to recruit and fund its agents in the region in order to oppose the Gulf regimes is very similar to what Saddam Hussein was doing before he discovered that everything that he built did not help him at the critical moment whether this was in 1990 or 2003. Iran’s strategy is based solely upon the concept of war, and this informs all of its [external] relations, making relations with Iran difficult.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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