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Press | Will Iran really change its policies?

Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, at right, shakes hands with Saudi national security adviser Musaad bin Mohammed al-Aiban, at left, as Wang Yi, China’s most senior diplomat, looks on, at center, for a photo during a closed meeting held in Beijing, Saturday, March 11, 2023; Credit: Luo Xiaoguang/Xinhua via AP

In the Opinion Section of Al Majalla, Majid Kayyali writes an article about the aftermath of the recent Chinese-sponsored Saudi-Iranian deal in that for some analysts and politicians the long confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia has come to a good end just because “a statement was issued about an agreement between security officials” from the two countries, “to the extent of talking about a historic turn in regional and international relations, and a strategic political shift in the world.”

“In fact, most of these analyses seem hasty and delusional, for many reasons,” Kayyali states in his piece published on March 21, citing six main reasons for his counterargument.

The first is that this is merely wishful thinking, not based on the realities on the ground.

“the functional nature of the Iranian regime’s policies based on exporting the ‘revolution’, i.e., exporting its model, and spreading its influence, based on military sectarian militias in the Arab region

Majid Kayyali

Second, it mitigates “the causes of conflict between the parties concerned, which are heavy and complex, and have difficult repercussions.”

Third, it contradicts “the functional nature of the Iranian regime’s policies based on exporting the ‘revolution’, i.e., exporting its model, and spreading its influence, based on military sectarian militias in the Arab region, such as the Houthis (Yemen), Hezbollah and its brigades (Lebanon and Iraq), Zainabiyoun, Fatemiyoun, Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Popular Mobilization Forces (Iraq and Syria), as they form a state within their own states.”

The fourth is “its indifference to the Iranian regime’s role in strengthening sectarian divisions” in Arab societies.

Fifthly, it considers that this development would weaken or harass the United States and Israel as well, as some see Iran as a state of resistance, “knowing that it does nothing to confront Israel, despite the fact that Israel has been striking in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran itself!”

Sixth, the development of the relationship between any country and Iran, and China’s assumption of this or that role, does not diminish the position of the United States, as it is economically dominant, and the source of most developments and transformations in science and technology.

Therefore, Kayyali asserts, “the problem lies in the nature of the Iranian regime, in its vision of itself and its role,” adding that this regime, “which is difficult to change, only wants to issue this declaration, perhaps as a bargaining card against the US administration.”

“the files of disagreement between the two parties [Iran and Saudi Arabia] are multiple and complex.”

Majid Kayyali

For Kayyali, it is not possible “to talk about a successful Saudi-Iranian agreement,” since we have only a statement or declaration of intent, and nothing more, while “the files of disagreement between the two parties are multiple and complex.”

Thus, it is too early to assess what happened, and to say that a new page has been opened in “Iranian-Saudi (and subsequently Arab) relations, the rise of China, and the decline of the United States in the region,” Kayyali concludes his opinion article in Al Majala.

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