Iran and Arabia: A Gulf Apart

Published December 13th, 2011 - 14:37 GMT

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Iran & KSA: The last century felt exacerbated tensions between the 2 countries, with distinct detente, 
alternating with rapprochement, periods. Tension comes of Sunni & Shia clerics from both camps respectively deeming the other's 
religious beliefs incorrect. Iran's hardliner Ahmadinejad, is unlikely to bridge the gulf between Persia & Arabia.
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Image 1 of 17: Iran & KSA: The last century felt exacerbated tensions between the 2 countries, with distinct detente, alternating with rapprochement, periods. Tension comes of Sunni & Shia clerics from both camps respectively deeming the other's religious beliefs incorrect. Iran's hardliner Ahmadinejad, is unlikely to bridge the gulf between Persia & Arabia.

Shah of Iran: The last Shah, Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi, returned an official visit to the KSA following diplomatic activity in 1928 between
the two, precipitating a peaceful solution by the '60s on the disputed islands of Farsi & Arabi. Each was claimed by its 
respective-named state, Arabi island falling under Arabian autonomy, Farsi under Persian.
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Image 1 of 17: Shah of Iran: The last Shah, Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi, returned an official visit to the KSA following diplomatic activity in 1928 between the two, precipitating a peaceful solution by the '60s on the disputed islands of Farsi & Arabi. Each was claimed by its respective-named state, Arabi island falling under Arabian autonomy, Farsi under Persian.

What led to the snake-calling? What degree of mistrust was there from Arabia regarding Iran's alleged strategy of influence in the 
Arab & Islamic worlds, that by 2010, Wikileaks disclosed classified details of SA's King Abdullah urging the US to attack Iran, 
describing Iran as a 'snake whose head should be cut off without any procrastination.'
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Image 1 of 17: What led to the snake-calling? What degree of mistrust was there from Arabia regarding Iran's alleged strategy of influence in the Arab & Islamic worlds, that by 2010, Wikileaks disclosed classified details of SA's King Abdullah urging the US to attack Iran, describing Iran as a "snake whose head should be cut off without any procrastination."

Iran's US Hostage Crisis: The Islamic revolution of 1979 strained relations between Iran & its Arab neighbors, let alone Iran & the 
US. Khumeini expressed his intention to export the revolution to the Muslim world. The Islamic Republic was viewed as a threat.
After Iraq's Kuwait invasion, the Iran threat was mitigated given Iraq's misconduct.
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Image 1 of 17: Iran's US Hostage Crisis: The Islamic revolution of 1979 strained relations between Iran & its Arab neighbors, let alone Iran & the US. Khumeini expressed his intention to export the revolution to the Muslim world. The Islamic Republic was viewed as a threat. After Iraq's Kuwait invasion, the Iran threat was mitigated given Iraq's misconduct.

The Iran-Iraq War was thrashed out between a Pan-Arab & the Supreme religious leader. Arab-Persian enemy lines
were manifest when all Arab states bar Libya & Syria, galvanized by SA, pledged financial allegiance to Iraq. The later fall of 
Saddam, who had championed the Arabian crusade against Persian expansionism, left a vacuum that Iran filled.
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Image 1 of 17: The Iran-Iraq War was thrashed out between a Pan-Arab & the Supreme religious leader. Arab-Persian enemy lines were manifest when all Arab states bar Libya & Syria, galvanized by SA, pledged financial allegiance to Iraq. The later fall of Saddam, who had championed the Arabian crusade against Persian expansionism, left a vacuum that Iran filled.

The 'Gulf' between Sunni & Shia: Religious clerics versus Sunni monarchy? Sunni tribes or clans versus Shia strongholds. 
The Sunni dominated Arab world versus Shia dominated Iran. An attempt was made by the Sunnis to destroy the 
shrine of al-Hussein, escalating tension between the Sunni & Shia creeds.
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Image 1 of 17: The 'Gulf' between Sunni & Shia: Religious clerics versus Sunni monarchy? Sunni tribes or clans versus Shia strongholds. The Sunni dominated Arab world versus Shia dominated Iran. An attempt was made by the Sunnis to destroy the shrine of al-Hussein, escalating tension between the Sunni & Shia creeds.

Shatt al-Arab: Like with any strained relationship comes disputed claims. This was Iran's Shebaa Farms (the contested 
patch of land that kicked off 
Israel-Lebanon 2006). The waterway which forms the boundary between the Iran and Iraq spilt the two countries into their 8 year
protracted war. Today it is split between Iranian and Iraqi control.
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Image 1 of 17: Shatt al-Arab: Like with any strained relationship comes disputed claims. This was Iran's Shebaa Farms (the contested patch of land that kicked off Israel-Lebanon 2006). The waterway which forms the boundary between the Iran and Iraq spilt the two countries into their 8 year protracted war. Today it is split between Iranian and Iraqi control.

Further ado about territory: 3 islands are contested by the UAE & Iran: Abu Musa of the Strait of Hormuz is claimed by both 
Tehran & the UAE, as are Lesser Tunb & Greater Tunb. The GCC fully backs the UAE's diplomatic efforts to regain
control of these 'Occupied' Islands. Unresolved til now, the joint-claimed lands lie under Iranian rule.
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Image 1 of 17: Further ado about territory: 3 islands are contested by the UAE & Iran: Abu Musa of the Strait of Hormuz is claimed by both Tehran & the UAE, as are Lesser Tunb & Greater Tunb. The GCC fully backs the UAE's diplomatic efforts to regain control of these 'Occupied' Islands. Unresolved til now, the joint-claimed lands lie under Iranian rule.

Implicit alliances run deep: The 'Sunni Camp' says that a 'Shia crescent' arches from Iran
through Iraq to Lebanon. Iran, Hezbollah's enclave, and Syria form a united
front against KSA, Jordan, Egypt, UAE. By 2006, Iran accuses Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia of supporting Israel's war on
Lebanon. Hezbollah 2011 shows support to Bashar al-Assad.
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Image 1 of 17: Implicit alliances run deep: The 'Sunni Camp' says that a "Shia crescent" arches from Iran through Iraq to Lebanon. Iran, Hezbollah's enclave, and Syria form a united front against KSA, Jordan, Egypt, UAE. By 2006, Iran accuses Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia of supporting Israel's war on Lebanon. Hezbollah 2011 shows support to Bashar al-Assad.

Saudi Arabia makes the enemy lines explicit, dispelling doubts raised at its loyalty to the Arab street, while confirming animosity to Iran.
According to Le Figaro, on June 5, 2010, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia told, the Defense Minister of France that: 'There are two countries in the world that do not deserve to exist: Iran and Israel.'
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Image 1 of 17: Saudi Arabia makes the enemy lines explicit, dispelling doubts raised at its loyalty to the Arab street, while confirming animosity to Iran. According to Le Figaro, on June 5, 2010, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia told, the Defense Minister of France that: "There are two countries in the world that do not deserve to exist: Iran and Israel."

Saudi - Syria, no love lost: Today SA has made no secret of the fact that it would be pleased to see the back of Bashar al Assad,
Syria's leader under people-pressure, Iran's long time friend, and ergo Saudi's foe. Syria is often called Iran's 'closest ally'-  the
only Arab country, bar Libya, not to follow Saudi's lead of Iraqi support v. Iran.
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Image 1 of 17: Saudi - Syria, no love lost: Today SA has made no secret of the fact that it would be pleased to see the back of Bashar al Assad, Syria's leader under people-pressure, Iran's long time friend, and ergo Saudi's foe. Syria is often called Iran's "closest ally"- the only Arab country, bar Libya, not to follow Saudi's lead of Iraqi support v. Iran.

UAE's Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has been involved in a low-level historical dispute, which has flared up again recently, over 
the ownership of 3 islands in the Persian Gulf—the Greater & Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa. While Bahrain suspects its
coups were inspired by Iran; Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia accuse Iran of inciting their Shia minorities.
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Image 1 of 17: UAE's Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has been involved in a low-level historical dispute, which has flared up again recently, over the ownership of 3 islands in the Persian Gulf—the Greater & Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa. While Bahrain suspects its coups were inspired by Iran; Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia accuse Iran of inciting their Shia minorities.

Bahrain's 2011 uprising has been a sustained campaign of civil resistance, namely a Shia revolt. Protests call for 
political freedom and equality for the majority Shia population. Iran is accused of stirring a Shia insurgence 
against the ruling monarchy, waging a proxy battle with Arab Sunni leaders. Until 1969, Iran claimed Bahrain.
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Image 1 of 17: Bahrain's 2011 uprising has been a sustained campaign of civil resistance, namely a Shia revolt. Protests call for political freedom and equality for the majority Shia population. Iran is accused of stirring a Shia insurgence against the ruling monarchy, waging a proxy battle with Arab Sunni leaders. Until 1969, Iran claimed Bahrain.

Founding of the GCC, 1980. Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain form the Gulf Co-operation Council
in response to Iranian threats perceived, and actually waged, on UAE territory. The GCC was formed the same year that the UAE submitted
a complaint to the UN concerning its 'occupied' islands.
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Image 1 of 17: Founding of the GCC, 1980. Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain form the Gulf Co-operation Council in response to Iranian threats perceived, and actually waged, on UAE territory. The GCC was formed the same year that the UAE submitted a complaint to the UN concerning its 'occupied' islands.

Kuwait's fickleness or the instability of strategic allies? Kuwait staunchly supported the Iraqi 
invasion of Iran. Iran was not impressed, and showed its resentment in the 80s. After '90, Persian-Kuwait relations improved once
Iraq turned on Kuwait; the Gulf fall-out was absolute. In 2006, Ahmadinejad visited Kuwait to re-establish relations.
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Image 1 of 17: Kuwait's fickleness or the instability of strategic allies? Kuwait staunchly supported the Iraqi invasion of Iran. Iran was not impressed, and showed its resentment in the 80s. After '90, Persian-Kuwait relations improved once Iraq turned on Kuwait; the Gulf fall-out was absolute. In 2006, Ahmadinejad visited Kuwait to re-establish relations.

In 1987, Persia & Arabia came to blows at Mecca in the Hajj clash with Saudi security. A number of Shia pilgrims
die in the cross fire. Khomeini calls for Muslims to avenge the pilgrims' deaths by overthrowing the Saudi royal family. KSA severs 
ties with Iran, accusing their Persian neighbors of plotting to take down the royal house of Saud.
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Image 1 of 17: In 1987, Persia & Arabia came to blows at Mecca in the Hajj clash with Saudi security. A number of Shia pilgrims die in the cross fire. Khomeini calls for Muslims to avenge the pilgrims' deaths by overthrowing the Saudi royal family. KSA severs ties with Iran, accusing their Persian neighbors of plotting to take down the royal house of Saud.

The Cairo-Tehran chill: Iran severed ties with Egypt for hosting the exiled Shah during the 
Revolution. Tehran named a street after the assassin of Anwar Sadat, sealing the grudge. Late '90s
Khatami, on a bid to heal relations, invites Mubarak to visit but is refused until Tehran renames 
the al-Islambouli street. They did, 'Intifada' Street.
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Image 1 of 17: The Cairo-Tehran chill: Iran severed ties with Egypt for hosting the exiled Shah during the Revolution. Tehran named a street after the assassin of Anwar Sadat, sealing the grudge. Late '90s Khatami, on a bid to heal relations, invites Mubarak to visit but is refused until Tehran renames the al-Islambouli street. They did, 'Intifada' Street.

The relationship between Arabia and Persia can be summarized as one of stop-starting antagonism, the pair lurching between states of 'best of friends' and 'worst of neighbors'! A clash of cultures, religious sects and long-standing stigma of the other.

Arabs regard Persians with a long-standing suspicion and mistrust. They harbor the fear of possible Iranian hegemony in the Persian Gulf. This appalls them more so as they view their Persian neighbors as 'knowingly' devient. (or mis-led) 

Persians see Arabs as inferior and regard them with an equally matched distaste. 

Each likes to think of the same Gulf ocean as named respectively 'Arabian' and 'Persian' - which causes added tension and fuel to the conflict.

At various points in the last century, Arabia and Persia have peacefully coexisted or bitterly battled. In a mostly stable but invariably tense relationship, they have remained wary and guarded of one another. Saudi Arabia (SA or KSA) and Iran established diplomatic relations in 1928. However, this vacillating state of affairs worsened after 1979 when the new Islamic Republic of Iran became viewed as a threat to the region. 1979, it could be said precipitated, a deterioration in Iran-Arab relations.

Some view the clash of the Gulf Titans as that of Monarchy at conflict with Islamic power, after Iran's monarchy fell to a 'supreme' brand of religious zeal coming into political power. Ayatollah Khomeini assumed the religious lead as the Shia cleric taking people-inspired power.

What's more, Ayatollah Khumeini was open about his intention to export the revolution to other parts of the Muslim world. Regional monarchies beware!

The diplomatic and economic isolation of Iran intensified during the Iraq-Iran war in which the late Saddam Hussein took on Ayatollah Khomeini.

Iran and Arabia: the twain shall never meet?

Unknown to many, in the 1940s, there was an Arab enclave or pocket in Iran -- Arab tribes called this Arabistan (Ahwaz). They lived among the overwhelmingly Persian population, struggling to keep their Arabic language alive.

Light in the Dark

In 2001, Iran and Saudi Arabia signed a "major security accord to combat, drug trafficking and organized crime".

In 2008, the Saudi King Abdullah invited former Iranian President Ali Rafsanjani to visit Saudi Arabia for the purpose of attending an Islamic conference. Rafsanji pointed out that the opportunity was a way "Iran and Saudi Arabia can resolve differences in the Muslim world."

Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have enjoyed mutually beneficial bilateral relations marked by economic agreements for many years, despite their long-term territorial dispute (see slideshow for more).

Other Arab nations outside of the Gulf or mainland of acknowledged Arab Sunni turf, like the North African Arabs, generally enjoyed closer relations with Iran due to limited historical connection between one another. That said, Algeria grew upset with Iran in 1998 when Ahmed Ouyahia, the Algerian prime minister, accused Iran of supporting Islamist groups, which were allegedly behind "massacres" in his country. 

Common multilateral forums, aside from the exclusive GCC kept Persia and Arabia bound together. For instance, both Iran and the UAE  are members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and have cooperated through these channels and outside of them.

Iran after the 90s was seen as more docile

In the later 90s,  Mohammad Khatami, came to power and tried to mend damaged ties between Iran and Arab neighbors and the US.

Iranian and Egyptian officials voice optimism that they will be able to fully restore diplomatic relations severed in 1979. (see slideshow)

Egypt

The Egyptian historical fall-out with Iran after 1979 surrounding Egypt's shetering of the late Shah and its ramifications, is not without up-to-date tensions involving Palestine, Israel and the Egyptian role.

When Egypt obstructed Hamas operatives trying to smuggle weapons into Gaza through a recently-destroyed border fence in Rafah, Iran accused Egypt of caving in to Israeli pressure. In 2008, Iran and Hezbollah accused Egypt of colluding with Israel in the hope that the IDF could destroy Hamas. Rumor abounded that Egypt had been secretly co-operating with Tel Aviv in maintaining the closure of the Gaza Strip to pressure Hamas.

Egypt suggested Iran was the problem in 2009: The Egyptian foreign minister says Iran is trying to control the Middle East, effectively signaling a further deterioration between Cairo and Tehran.

"The Iranians are trying to spread and impose their specific ideology on the region, and they are using some of the Palestinians ... for Iranian purposes," he tells the media. He further attests that Egypt is being targeted by Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

2011 sees tentative Arabian-Persian ties further strained by Arabian countries supporting the international community's sanctions against Iran. 

Relations were also hampered by the Islamic Republic’s proxy support of Shia protestors in Bahrain and the UAE’s denunciation of Iran’s activities, though the Gulf neighbors have worked to restore relations. 

Iran has been severely critical of Bahrain hosting the US navy Fifth Fleet within the Persian Gulf.

Persia-Levant alliance:

Iran and Syria have had a strategic alliance, partially due to their common animosity towards Saddam Hussein and the Assad regime's Shiite faith (though the Arab national politics of Syria's ruling regime are at odds with Iran's Persian ideology.) And then there's Hezbollah. For a more involved picture, take a tour of the above slide-panel.

 

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just persian gulf//
are u donkey?

ahmed (not verified) Sat, 08/04/2012 - 07:13

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