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The surreal ‘grand coalition’ against Iran

The open manifestation of an ‘American-Sunni’ coalition against Iran with huge anti-Shia intonations does nothing to promote peace, stability and coexistence in the region.

Saudi King Salman Bin Abdelaziz Al Saud and US president Donald Trump, attend Arab and Muslim leaders summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on May 21, 2017. Picture by Balkis Press/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved.The orchestration of the coalition is designed to prop up a Saudi regime beset by serious internal squabbling along with an array of social and economic problems exacerbated by a military quagmire of its own making in Yemen. However, it can neither contain Iran nor prevent previously disenfranchised Shias from Afghanistan and Pakistan to the shores of the Mediterranean in Syria and Lebanon from having their say. This is particularly true in Iraq, where the incumbent Shia government in Baghdad is supposedly a close ally of the United States.

Despite the $350 billion ‘tribute’ paid by the Saudis which included the purchase of more than $100 billion of unwanted weaponry to the financially drained Kingdom, it is unlikely that in the final analysis, their reward will serve any purpose beyond the ‘photo opportunity’ that exhibited so many Sunni Arab leaders humbling themselves around President Trump.

Having secured his expected ‘tribute’ from the Arabs, President Trump then travelled to Israel and much to the chagrin of Israeli leaders, skirted around their key issues, such as continued US opposition to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory or moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by simply harping on the exaggerated anti-Iran rhetoric carried over from Riyadh.

Meanwhile, as this surreal and mendacious ‘US-Sunni-Israeli Grand Coalition’ was being projected, the people of Iran were celebrating the re-election of President Hassan Rouhani who in the course of the past 4 years has stirred Iran away from his predecessor’s path of wanton agitation and lunacy, having most importantly taken the strident steps necessary for ending Iran’s nuclear stand off with the international community.

Repeated labeling of Iran as the ‘biggest state sponsor of terrorism’ or assertions such as ‘Iran’s provocative and unacceptable behavior in the region’ - especially under the presidency of Hassan Rouhani, simply lacks the thrust and luster that it once had in the 1980s and the 1990s. It is a fact that since 9/11, non-state actors such as Al Qaeda and more recently ISIS have almost completely monopolized the terrorism threat directed against the west and in the case of ISIS with equal venom again Iran and more generally Shias in the region.

Therefore, it is surreal to watch Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabi cronies exonerating themselves from any association with various acts of terrorism carried out against people in the west during the past two decades and falsely levying the blame on Shias in general and Iran in particular. This clear deception, camouflaged and sweetened by payments of billions of dollars in tribute to the US, becomes even more surreal in view of the fact that there has never been any evidence of Iranian or Shia involvement in any of the attacks that have been carried out in Europe or America.

It is even more ironic that at a time when the Iranian people have so blatantly exhibited their preference for moderation and peaceful coexistence by soundly silencing those who continue to advocate radicalism and confrontation, such an outrageous and unwarranted display of open hostility should be orchestrated against them.

So far, Iranian reaction to these unwarranted provocations has remained relatively moderate. Thus instead of continuing such rash policies that only increase tension and instability in the region, it would seem more prudent that steps should be taken to encourage dialogue and diplomacy in order to defuse tension and prevent further division and misunderstanding.

While there is undeniable validity in some of the past Saudi grievances voiced against the Islamic Republic, it is important to note that since the advent of the Rouhani government, Iran’s entire demeanor has undergone a fundamental shift, thereby allowing dialogue and diplomacy to play a decisive role.

About the author

Mehrdad Khonsari is a former Iranian diplomat and a Senior Consultant at the ‘Iranian Centre for Policy Studies’.


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