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Relations with Iran: Between truth and propaganda

Ever since Rowhani was elected, Iran has been implying to the world that it’s going through a phase of change and transition

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has resorted to an old Iranian style of politics in which the media is used to exert political pressure. He voiced his complaint that his request to visit Saudi Arabia was rejected. However, the truth is the complete opposite as his request was approved and an appointment was scheduled with his Saudi counterpart; but he himself rejected moving forward with the meeting.

At the same time, Iranian commentators were quick to market fairy tales that there have been Iranian political breakthroughs and that most Gulf countries agreed to finalize most disputed issues between themselves and Tehran. One Iranian commentator alleged on a television interview that solutions have been reached on Bahrain, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen and that all Gulf countries, except for Saudi Arabia, agreed to these solutions! Of course, any beginner in the field of politics knows that it’s impossible to easily resolve such complicated issues. Any political studies’ student in the region knows it’s illogical that five Gulf countries would approve of Iran’s suggestions and ignore Saudi Arabia’s stance. This is simply Iranian propaganda pushing the idea that Iran has changed and desires reconciliation and that countries like Saudi Arabia have a different agenda.
Whether Zarif visits Saudi Arabia or not and whether he continues this negative marketing against it or not, the issues of our region, which is packed with problems and suspicion, cannot be resolved through the use of propaganda. The most important step to reform Iranian-Gulf relations requires proof of good intent. Iranian President Hassan Rowhani knows this truth very well as he was a major party in the Iranian-Saudi reconciliation of the 1990s. Back then, an important detailed agreement was signed by him and late Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdelaziz.

Ever since Rowhani was elected, Iran has been implying to the world that it’s going through a phase of change and transition

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

If Rowhani’s government aims to achieve comprehensive reconciliation in the region, then there must be serious communication without pressure and propaganda. The Iranian reconciliation with the U.S. is not enough to alter Gulf stances. The desire to decrease regional tension, particularly in the Gulf, is a mutual aim with the Americans. However, important issues, such as those linked to Bahrain, Egypt and Syria, are not viewed in the same way by the Gulf and the United States.

Ever since Rowhani was elected, Iran has been implying to the world that it’s going through a phase of change and transition. We really hope this is true. But, media statements are not enough to prove this. It’s also not enough to sell promises to the Americans. If the Iranians are honest about reconciliation, they will find real friends and brothers in the Gulf. In order to reach a time when we can cast away all doubt, trust must be built and all obstructions must be overcome. Are we really confronting a new Iran? It’s not easy at all to believe this. We want Iran to stop its hostile activities in Yemen, Bahrain, Djibouti, Sudan, Gaza, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Is this possible?

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Dec. 4, 2013.

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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.