The story is not about the terrorist attack on a prison in Bahrain using pistols and automatic rifles in the style of films that resulted in a police officer being killed and 10 dangerous prisoners to escape. Nor was it about the planning that accompanied the operation which seems more likely to be carried out by intelligence services than members of a gang.
The real story is about Iran’s support for this operation which was exposed to the world when it conveyed an honest message via the satellite channel “Ahl Al-Bayt” encouraging the operation and describing it as “successful”. Although this Iranian admission is not new to the people of the region who are well aware of Iranian strategy, it defeated calls for Gulf- Iranian dialogue that the west and some well-intentioned Arabs make from time to time.
Since the conclusion of the Iranian nuclear deal, there is an idea circulating in western circles that government officials and western ministers are speaking frankly about and promoting. This idea is that the agreement provides an opportunity to take the first step in establishing a new security system in the Arabian Gulf in order to improve relations between Iran and Arab Gulf states. The launch of such a dialogue will provide a platform to address many security challenges and contribute to easing tension, crisis management and conflict prevention.
This is great, the terms are impeccable and the ideas on paper are wonderful and extremely ideal. Unfortunately, however, this is not applicable, and is closer to impossible. It is highly unlikely that Iran will openly declare hostility and carry out terrorism in word and deed. However, this has been overlooked only to ensure the success of the miserable nuclear deal. Perhaps it is time to restructure the deal as the President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly stated.
The dialogue between any two parties in diplomatic relations is never an objective, rather it is a means. Repeated terms such as resolving political differences through negotiation and dialogue are correct in principle but impossible to implement when one of the parties refuses to give up its aggressive policy which has become a structural part of the nature of its political system, and when it wants to begin the dialogue from the point where its militias, which are scattered in the region, left off. Every time that the Gulf states tried to practice the principles of good neighbourliness and mutual respect with its neighbour Iran, they were shocked by its policies that oppose all of these principles.
Dialogue and negotiation to make viewpoints converge have never been a Gulf demand whilst Iran has never respected the rules of this dialogue. The most important difference between the Iranian and Gulf sides is Tehran’s insistence on continuing with its policy of intervening in the affairs of the region, destabilising its security and stability and even announcing this openly more than once.
This week last year, Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations with Iran after Iranians set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and its consulate in the city of Mashhad. This followed Saudi Arabia’s announcement that Nimr Al-Nimr had been executed. A year has passed since relations between the two countries were cut, and Riyadh was not affected by this freeze in diplomatic relations as much as Iran was. The Gulf states are not in need of such relations as long as Iran does not stop its aggressive policy and exporting the Iranian revolution. Perhaps what is interesting here is what the last Iranian Ambassador to Riyadh Hussein Sadiqi said to the Iranian Sharq newspaper: “Saudi Arabia’s decision to cut ties has caused us great damage” and “I say frankly that Saudi Arabia was not looking for an excuse to cut ties with Iran”.
In light of the dangerous escalation of Iran’s expansionist policy involving its militias and agents in six Arab countries, the idea of dialogue with Iran seems illogical and cannot even be hinted at. However, the west’s opening up to Iran requires it to push for dialogue in order to achieve its goals. The west can open up to Iran as it likes but it must stop portraying the Gulf countries as the ones who refuse to participate in dialogue that is not beneficial and only beautifies the ugliness of the Iranian regime.