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Dialogue with Iran - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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[Former Iraqi Prime Minister] Dr. Iyad Allawi is calling for Arab-Iranian dialogue, because Iran has problems and issues in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Palestinian territories, all of which overlap and thus, dialogue will resolve these complications.

Adding to what Dr. Allawi has stated; Iran’s problems extend to the Gulf States and include occupation and destabilization operations, among other practices, and the same applies to Lebanon, Yemen and other states. This confirms that Iran’s problem is not with Saudi Arabia or Egypt only, as Damascus is trying to convince us, rather; it is with all the countries in the Arab world.

Iran is not a superpower but it has a specific goal and it relies upon some groups that believe that their sectarian affiliation to Iran grants them power and stature – with the knowledge that vast majority of Shia, on all different levels, are aware of and always warn about the threat posed by the incumbent regime in Tehran.

Iran’s real problem lies in its desire to expand in the Arab world and to resume its exportation of its Islamic revolution. Many of us overlook the fact that Iran’s fundamental problem since [Ayatollah Ruholla] Khomeini’s revolution was exporting it, in addition to its interference in internal Arab affairs – and this is what [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad’s regime and its supporters are seeking to implement today.

The question here is “Why? And what has changed?” But the answer is clear: The Iranian regime found an advantageous opportunity in the fall of Saddam Hussein to fill in the void that was created in the region and to extend its influence in Iraq, and the same applies to Afghanistan.

Washington presented Tehran with a priceless service when it removed its archenemies; Saddam in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The conflict is not Iranian-American as some would like to imagine; Iran believes that this is its historical opportunity to extend its influence in Iraq and Afghanistan and expand in the region whilst exploiting the vacuum and the shock that perplexed the Arabs the day Baghdad fell.

Iran wanted to resume what it had started in terms of exporting the revolution following Khomeini’s rise to power, but which was disrupted for a number of reasons, including the eight-year war with Iraq. This was followed by the rationality that was displayed by Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammed Khatami during their presidential terms in Iran.

The godfather of rapprochement at the time was King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, who was crown prince then. During that time, Washington wanted Saudi’s testimony that Tehran was responsible of the al Khobar bombings [29 May 2004] but the Saudis knew that it would have meant war with Iran. Riyadh did not give Washington that validation.

During Khatami’s presidency, Egyptian-Iranian rapprochement was increasing, with some minor differences – but both were speaking openly. At the time, Khatami pledged to change the name of the street that was named after [Anwar] Sadat’s assassin [Khalid Islambouli], but the matter was delayed because of the mayor of Tehran. And do you remember who that mayor was? Ahmadinejad!

The problem with Iran is not one about dialogue, rather; it is the crisis of the Iranian desire for expansion in the Arab world. Tehran wants to seize control of the region’s states and its objectives are clear – how else can one explain the Iranian petition against Google Earth over the name of the Arabian Gulf.

This is not the attitude of someone that seeks rapprochement; rather, it stems from nationalistic or religious intolerance – and what is concealed is always greater than what is revealed.

A change in Iranian attitude without war cannot come about except from within Tehran internally, or through a Saudi-Egyptian stance that can yield results on the ground – but results that are far removed from Damascus’s deception.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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