Iran must stop supporting militias for peace offer to be taken seriously: Expert 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. (REUTERS/Khalid Al-Mousily)
Updated 26 May 2019
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Iran must stop supporting militias for peace offer to be taken seriously: Expert 

  • Iran has for long pursued a policy of outsourcing its meddling to external militias
  • Among these are the Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen

JEDDAH: Iran needs to dismantle its proxies and end its interventions in Arab affairs before seeking to normalize relations with its Gulf neighbors, a political expert told Arab News on Sunday.

“The Gulf countries have been calling for normal relations with their neighbors for years, but their calls have fallen on deaf ears on the Iranian side,” Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international relations scholar, said.

Accusing Tehran of “playing games,” Al-Shehri described Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s suggestion that Iran wanted to improve relations with its Gulf neighbors as worthless “as long as it continues meddling in the affairs of other countries, and fails to halt its evil militias from sabotaging and destabilizing regional security.”

Iran has for long pursued a policy of outsourcing its meddling to external militias, which indirectly supports, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. 

Zarif, who is on a two-day visit to Iraq, told a joint news conference in Baghdad with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed Al-Hakim that Iran wants to build balanced relations with its Gulf Arab neighbors and had proposed signing a non-aggression pact with them.

However, Al-Shehri said that Tehran needs to address three key issues — its nuclear program; its terrorist militias, which have been spreading chaos in the Gulf region and beyond; and its ballistic missile program — before making any such proposals.

“The question is, would Iran be ready to give up all three files? If they want their neighbors to accept them and normalize relations with them, they have to be honest and stop playing games,” he said.

Al-Shehri described Zarif’s regional tour as an attempt to rally support and send a false message that Iran has friends and allies who would stand by them in their crisis with the US.

“Where were these countries when Iran’s terrorist proxies in Yemen, the Houthi militias, launched missiles and drones attacking the holiest Islamic site in Makkah and other Saudi facilities?” Al-Shehri asked.

Zarif said Iran will defend itself against any military or economic aggression, calling on European states to do more to preserve a nuclear agreement his country signed.

“We will defend (ourselves) against any war efforts, whether it be an economic war or a military one, and we will face these efforts with strength,” he said.

Strains have increased between Iran and the US following this month’s sabotage attack on oil tankers in the Gulf. Washington and other regional allies have concluded that Iran is most likely behind the attacks. 

Tehran has distanced itself from the bombings, but the US has sent an aircraft carrier and extra 1,500 troops to the Gulf, sparking concerns over the risk of conflict in the volatile region.


Leaders of Japan, France share Middle East concerns

Updated 14 min 54 sec ago
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Leaders of Japan, France share Middle East concerns

TOKYO: French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have agreed to bolster naval defense ties in the Indo-Pacific region and shared concerns about growing tensions in the Middle East.
Macron, in Tokyo ahead of this week’s Group of 20 summit in Osaka, told a joint news conference that he also hoped tensions over the US-China trade dispute will ease during the summit.
The two leaders discussed nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran and issues to be raised at the G-20 summit.
Macron said he and Abe agreed on the need to ensure the verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of both Iran and North Korea.
“On both these topics we have a common point of view and a real will, in the two cases, to reach collective security by the non-acquisition of nuclear weapons or the total, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization,” Macron said. “And we have the will to ensure the stability of these regions.”
Abe said protecting the safety of the Strait of Hormuz is also crucial. During his recent visit to Tehran in hopes of de-escalating tensions between Iran and the US, a Japanese oil tanker was attacked, though all 21 crewmembers were safe.
“Securing safety of navigation at the Strait of Hormuz, which connects Europe and Asia, is extremely important for the peace and stability of international society including Japan and France,” Abe said. He said he and Macron shared concerns about the rising tension in the Middle East, and reaffirmed their cooperation in efforts to stabilize the situation.
Asked about former Nissan and Renault chairman Carlos Ghosn, charged with financial misconduct, Macron said he is “attached to the principle of the presumption of innocence and to the rights of the defense.” He also said France is responsible for protecting an important company and its employees from a negative impact, and to reaffirm the “solidity” of Renault and that of the Renault-Nissan alliance.
Macron said heightened tensions caused by the trade dispute between the US and China are also a global concern.
“We are at a time of very high tensions between the United States and China, so I wish we have, during the G-20, talks that will enable the appeasement of these tensions,” Macron said.
“For me, the solution to the problems we encounter is not in bilateral agreements, is not in bypassing international rules, is not in protectionism, but it is very clearly in the modernization of the trade multilateral framework,” Macron said.
Talks planned for Saturday between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G-20 summit are getting extensive attention.
Abe, at another news conference, said he hopes the two leaders will have a constructive dialogue.
Japan and France also unveiled a five-year roadmap of cooperation focusing on maritime security, especially in the Indo-Pacific where China has been growing increasingly assertive. They also agreed to promote cooperation in defense technology, space, and science and technology.