Iran in charm offensive with the Gulf Arab states

The regime in Iran is reaching out to the Gulf Arab nations to call for unity against Islamic State and cooperation in regional affairs. Following the signing of the July 15 Nuclear Agreement with the 5+1 Powers, most of the Gulf Arab states have been concerned that a newly enriched Iran would expand what many see as their regional hegemony and support for terrorist proxy groups worldwide.

The current charm offensive is viewed as attempting to achieve the dual roles of lowering tensions as well as solidifying Iran’s leadership in the fight against militant extremists with which it does not support, as opposed to Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis whom they presumably will continue to support.

“Any threat to one country is a threat to all … No country can solve regional problems without the help of others,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said at a news conference hosted by the Iranian embassy in Kuwait.

Zarif earlier met Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah and Kuwait’s foreign minister, Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah, who was not present at the news conference.

After Kuwait, Zarif traveled to Qatar, where he was to meet the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. He was due to go to Iraq next.

“Iran stands behind the people in the region to fight against the threat of extremism, terrorism and sectarianism … Our message to the regional countries is that we should fight together against this shared challenge,” Zarif added.

Contrast this spirited campaign to present a new face to regional rivals with recent provocative statements made by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei directed at President Obama via Twitter:

It would be in keeping with long supposed intelligence analysis that assume Iran wants to completely expel U.S. influence in the region and fill the resulting void themselves. In many ways they are well on their way to achieving this, especially in Iraq, where the lack of any competent military has been replaced by Iranian Republican Guard Quds Force leadership.

[Reuters][USA Today]