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Saturday 19 Aug 2017 | 00:54 | SYDNEY
Saturday 19 Aug 2017 | 00:54 | SYDNEY

Iran: What will the neighbours think?

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30 June 2009 09:37

Not much, if official reactions have been anything to go by. While France's President Sarkozy labeled the election a fraud, Gulf Arab states have been careful to avoid criticism of the election and subsequent protests and violence.

The Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain's foreign minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, allegedly called for a halt to foreign interference in Iran's affairs, echoing a favourite rejoinder of Iran's ruling regime. The UAE's foreign minister also expressed concerns about external interference in Iranian affairs.
 
The Qatari Emir reiterated the importance of Iranian stability to the Gulf and referred to the demonstrations as a normal outcome of democracies. Such comments are not likely to please the US, if this report is anything to go by. Sultan Qaboos was due to visit Iran yesterday but it appears this visit has been cancelled or postponed despite the sultanate's very good relations with Iran. In Iraq, the dominant official reaction has been muted, if not silent.
 
Such reactions are testimony to the triumph of national interest. As geography has made Iran a permanent neighbour of these countries, their pronouncements are dictated by pragmatism. With the US and Europe leading the charge in criticising the electoral outcomes and the UK in particular providing the external enemy du jour for the Iranian regime, Arab Gulf states see little sense in putting their heads above the parapet.

Discretion is certainly the better part of valour for these states when they need to factor in bilateral economic links, energy security (particularly access to Iranian gas reserves), border disputes, large resident ethnic Iranian populations, in some instances significant Shi'a populations and the general sense that there is no need to upset the Iranian regime unless you really have to.

Photo by Flickr user .imelda, used under a Creative Commons license.

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