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Zarif’s Dialogue: Who Conspires against the Other?

Zarif’s Dialogue: Who Conspires against the Other?

Tuesday, 7 May, 2019 - 06:30
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad.

This is the third part of my discussion on the dialogue of Mohammed Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, which he had before an audience at the Asia Society in New York and during which he dealt with topics I found worthy of debate.

Zarif: “We are at the forefront of fighting terrorism. We have fought ISIS. Yesterday, the government of Iraq invited 300 Iranian families who have lost their loved ones fighting ISIS in Iraq. Has the United States received an invitation for a single family? Or your allies in the region: Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE?”

— The country least affected by ISIS and al-Qaeda is Iran, which has not been attacked by these groups within its borders. He is talking about 300 Iranian families that were harmed by ISIS, but we remind him that the Quds Force death squad and Iran’s militias have killed half a million people in Syria and caused the displacement of 12 million Syrians. This is a tragedy and a crime at the hands of Zarif and his regime of a magnitude never witnessed before in the region, despite the many wars it has seen.

Zarif: “There is what I call the ‘B Team’ — Bibi Netanyahu, (US National Security Adviser John) Bolton, (Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed) bin Zayed and (Crown Prince Mohammed) bin Salman. They did not like our deal from the very beginning, but it remains the best deal possible… If he (Donald Trump) wants to push Iran into accepting a new deal that would be selling our dignity, then he won’t be able to do it. And then plan B of the ‘B Team’ will come into play. I believe the ‘B Team’ does not have the same plan as President Trump.”

Presenter: “So what is the plot of the ‘B Team’?”

Zarif: “The plot is to push Iran into taking action and then use that (against it).”

— Here, Zarif is trying to sow suspicion and fear among Americans that the economic sanctions, albeit peaceful, conceal a military agenda. However, the truth is that if there is a team that is conspiring to wage a war, it is Iran, not the “B Team.” The latter believes that strangling Iran economically is a cheaper way to achieve its goals without engaging in a costly and dangerous military adventure. The plot, if any, is likely to be the work of Iran’s regime, fomenting war in the coming months to force Washington to negotiate on Iranian terms and to intimidate American public opinion, which is hostile to war.

Zarif: “People (Arabs) just call it the Gulf because it’s easier, and people confuse that it may be the Gulf of Mexico.”

Presenter: “Some do call it the Arabian Gulf.”

Zarif: “They want to revise history. The name is in geography. I have a notepad by the king of Saudi Arabia — at that time he was not the king — he said ‘Riyadh, Persian Gulf’… ‘Kuwait, Persian Gulf.’ This is the name, why are you being so childish?

— Zarif is the one who is raising childish differences in times of serious conflict. No one in the region has spoken for years about the naming conflict. Every side, whether Iranian or Arab, is content to call the Gulf what it thinks is historically correct. There is no connection between naming and differences today with Iran. The Tehran regime is the one that is stealing land, water and people using militias and weapons, not just “stealing” a name on a map or a literary or historical controversy. The Gulf, whether we call it “Arab” or “Persian,” it is the right of each party to call it what it deems appropriate. The Arabs did not impose the name “Arabian Gulf” on anyone except on themselves, and this is their right.

Zarif: “We believe that Iran will continue to sell its oil, we will continue to find buyers for our oil and we will continue to use the Strait of Hormuz… But if the United States takes the crazy measure of trying to prevent us from doing that, then it should be prepared for the consequences.”

— We can see that the power of the regime of Iran is usually only displayed on the weaker countries, and against peaceful nations in the vicinity. It only respects greater powers.

Zarif: “If our neighbors are ready for a non-aggression pact with Iran, we are ready for a non-aggression pact with them, including Saudi Arabia, including the UAE. We have no problem with that because we are satisfied with our size, our geography and our natural resources.

— What the minister says in international forums is incompatible with what the regime does on the ground. Everyone knows of, and has seen, Iran’s attempts to expand and instill chaos in the region over decades. Most of its activities have involved the military, unlike Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which spend most of their revenues on their development and within their countries.

Zarif: “We have very good relations with Turkey… We have extremely good relations with Pakistan… We never had such good relations in the past 40 years.”

— Good relationships with only two countries do not deny Iran’s bad relationships with about 20 others in the region, including Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, the Gulf states, Jordan, Sudan, Algeria, and others.

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