IRNA – Director of the London-based Abrar Islamic Foundation (Abrar House) think tank Saeed Shahabi said that whilst Tehran seeks to downplay tensions in the region, Riyadh however wages war and conflict in the Middle East.
The scholar made the remarks in a recent exclusive interview with IRNA in London.
As for the role played by the Saudi Arabia in the region, Shahabi said, ‘The Saudis have been playing a major role in regional and international politics. They have largely been on the negative side in their approach to how the Middle East should be run, what is the nature of the governance of the region, the alliances and the role of religion.’
Commenting on the Saudis claims about Iran’s influence in the region, the analyst said, ‘The Saudis have always had their expansion policies not just in the last 20 to 30 years. 200 years ago they invaded Iraq and destroyed Imam Hussein tomb. In early 60s they attacked Yemen and there was war there with the Yemenis who were aligned with the Jamal Abd-o-Naser. Also the Saudis were known for their negative role in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan in the 80s.
‘They have rows with their own neighbors, with Qatar on border dispute, with Kuwait, Oman and UAE and some of the problems are sill standing. So the Saudis are using bullying as a tactic to subjugate others.’
As for Riyadh’s argument against Iran, he said, ‘We have to see what influence mean. I think Iran wants to have stable neighborhood. She doesn’t want enemies in its borders; She wants to have friendly relationship with Iraq and Syria which is natural.
‘It is natural to have good friends and have relations and have good allies in the region. But the problem starts when you attack other countries. So Iraq during Saddam Hussein attacked Iran. We do not have evidence that Iran attacked anyone. So there are legitimate ways of guaranteeing and securing that influence. War should not be one of those means.’
Commenting on the future of the region with the US President Donald Trump administration which is shifting its policy towards Saudi Arabia, Shahabi said, ‘This is nothing new that America is selling arms to Saudi Arabia. They have done this before. I do not believe that there would be massive change in the American approach. They have not had positive role, not only in the Middle East, but also in the world.
‘Generally they have massive power, they go about everywhere. Now they are going to China to create a conflict there.
“US wants to sell arms. They want to maintain their domination in the Middle East. They want to support Israel. But what they don’t want is to have democratic regime and respect for human rights in the Middle East.”