Does Iran have the will and the courage to build bridges of trust in the Middle East?

Written by – Elijah J. Magnier:

After 42 years of the Cold War between Iran and the United States of America, there were irregular relations with countries in the Middle East. Iranian-Saudi meetings were held in Baghdad and Amman without achieving the desired warmth. Despite the apparent Iran-Saudi de-escalation and while waiting for Tehran to provide guarantees to reassure their suspicious, Middle Eastern countries have decided to adopt a tough stance on Iran’s allies. Saudi Arabia has taken a distance from Syria, declared war against the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Houthis in Yemen. There is no doubt that Iran – which has been besieged for four decades – will not find it easy to build confidence with the Gulf countries any time soon, and vice versa. Tehran believes it is threatened by the US and its Middle Eastern allies and that the Iranian national security is under serious menace. At the same time, the Middle Eastern countries lament the Iranian armament of its partners that earned it a more extensive influence in many countries of the region and doubted Iran’s missiles and nuclear programs. The outcome is obvious: the rapprochement is slow and is not expected to reach trust and confidence levels.

When Ibrahim Raisi was elected President of Iran, he prioritised restoring the country’s relations with neighbouring Arab countries, notwithstanding the absence of diplomatic ties between Tehran and Riyadh for more than six years. However, Raisi’s priority needs new elements injected into the Iran-Arab relationship that is still shy today. What is happening between Iran and its Arab neighbours is far from a Sunni-Shiite competition or ideological differences. It is a question of accumulated profound differences and the different geopolitical objectives and relationships with the USA.

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