Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Iran’s Rafsanjani threatens Arab neighbours

Iran Focus: a pro-MEK website
Iran’s former President Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani warned Arab states of the Persian Gulf to “stay away from contentious issues that will only provide the Big Powers with opportunities for mischief-making, the state-run media reported on Tuesday. READ MORE

Any insecurity in the Persian Gulf and even in other parts of the world can upset the balance in the Persian Gulf region and that will be to no one’s advantage, Rafsanjani told the Saudi ambassador to Tehran, Osama Bin-Ahmed.

The former president, who chairs the State Expediency Council, made his remarks a day after neighbouring Kuwait announced that it was going ahead with plans to develop a gas field that is contested by Iran, despite the failure of bilateral negotiations to reach a compromise.

Rafsanjani criticised recent positions of the Gulf Cooperation Council on Iran, calling them “far from the reality”.

The wisdom of the officials of states in the region, in particular Iran and Saudi Arabia, can play a crucial role in securing the interests of the world of Islam and the concerned Muslim countries, Rafsanjani said.

Analysts saw Rafsanjani’s remarks as a bid by Iran’s leaders to put pressure on the Arab states of the Persian Gulf at a time when the leaders of the oil-rich sheikhdoms are gravely concerned at the growing influence of Iran in Iraq and the rise of radical Islamists in Tehran.

“Rafsanjani has always favoured a bipolar approach to the Persian Gulf”, said Simon Bailey of the London-based Gulf Intelligence Monitor. “He thinks if Tehran-Riyadh relations are kept balanced, Iran can increase its leverage on the smaller Arab states and compel them to accept its demands”.

During the meeting with the Saudi ambassador, Rafsanjani hinted that any attack on Iran would have devastating consequences for the world’s energy markets.

The countries in the region must prevent the Big Powers’ opportunism through unity and by avoiding issues likely to cause discord”, he said.

Referring to the mounting problems facing the Islamic Republic’s close ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Rafsanjani said that Syria and Lebanon were in need of assistance from Islamic states.