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Even if Rouhani Visits Saudi Arabia! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani is welcomed by Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah in Kuwait City, Kuwait, February 15, 2017. President.ir/Handout via REUTERS

Following the visit of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani to Oman and Kuwait, his deputy chief of staff said the regional initiative in accepting the invitations of the two countries’ leaders is an indication for the need to establish Islamic friendships and restore regional ties.

He added that this initiative is “an opportunity that should be exploited by the friends in the region because it will come only once. Take advantage of the good opportunity!”

Is it really a “good opportunity” that should be exploited by the Gulf countries because “it will only come once?” In fact, it is not a one-time chance and is not necessarily a good one even if Rouhani visits Saudi Arabia.

This is not the first trick played by the Iranian regime, i.e. strengthening ties with Gulf countries to avoid a clash with the West, mainly the U.S. This was done before by former Iranian presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mohammad Khatami and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in various stages, but nothing changed.

Tehran has caused destruction in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Syria due to its intervention, not to mention what has happened and still is in Bahrain, which Hassan Nasrallah considers it occupied.

Tehran has also interfered in some Gulf countries, including Kuwait. Then, why should we believe Iran now? Why should we believe that it is a good opportunity that “will come only once?”

In fact it is absurd to believe Tehran based on statements or visits because the region’s history shows that the right way to put Iran-Gulf relations on the right track starts with actions and not slogans.

Given that some tend to forget, it is necessary to remind them that Rouhani rejected a pilgrimage invitation made by Saudi Arabia in 2013. This invitation was controversial but was published by Fars News Agency. It reported that “Rouhani has not announced his final decision on the Saudi King’s invitation to participate in the Hajj rituals”, adding that he will make an announcement after returning from New York where he attended the U.N. General Assembly meeting.

Back then, Rouhani turned down the invitation because he was busy mending fences with former U.S President Barack Obama – Today we find Rouhani trying to tour the Gulf due to concerns over the Trump administration’s policies.

Worse still, Gulf countries are being told via a tweet from the Iranian president’s deputy chief of staff that Rouhani’s visit to Oman and Kuwait is a one-time chance and the region should exploit it!

Not only that, but Rouhani says that “good relations with neighbors and Gulf security” are the foundation for Iran policies. The question here is: Why hasn’t Rouhani worked on this foundation until now? Why is he visiting the Gulf now and not since 2013? The answer is easy – it is because of the Iranian concerns from Trump. For this, it is difficult to believe Tehran.