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Malek Helali
IRAN is an important player in the region and has a historical role in its past and present, according to Shafeeq Ghabra, Professor of Political Science at Kuwait University.
Ghabra noted that while Iran shares the Arabs' concern over Zionism and other issues, it has overplayed its secular approach and has consequently lost the support of populations it could have gained otherwise.
This came during a talk hosted by Brookings Doha Center on Monday to discuss the policies and state of affairs in and around Iran in 2018 and to address the current status of Iran amid its external and internal challenges. The panel discussion was moderated by Ali Fathollah-Nejad, visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, and was attended by members of Doha's diplomatic, academic and media communities.
According to the Head of the Centre for International Research and Education Seyed Mohammad Kazem Sajjadpour, Iran supports regional dialogue and promotes an interconnective security network ensuring the interest and strength of the region.
Additionally, Sajjadpour affirmed that Iran proved by words and action its commitment to its bilateral relations during the GCC crisis given its support for Qatar.
Ghabra continued:"Iran should start looking for friends and partners instead of followers having their internal policies decided in Tehran such as the case with Iraq." He also noted that Iran could have been wiser in dealing with the issue of ISIS through policies against the marginalization of Sunnis.
Commenting on the Syrian issue, Ghabra said that the Syrian rebellion started off as young and peaceful while the Syrian regime was very brutal from the beginning and Iranians were aware of its brutality.
However, Ghabra emphasised that he still does not believe that Arabs should consider Zionists allies against Iran which is neither an imperialist nor a colonial state. He stated that Iran cannot be blamed for all the issues in the region, but it also should not constantly victimise itself.
In fact, according to Sajjadpour, the notions promoting Iran as a threat are dangerous and have contributed to the war against it. He added that Iran is a builder in the region and has been providing security to its neighbours.
Furthermore, Sajjadpour emphasised Iran's position that opposes hegemony and noted that Iran's intervention in Syria was purely defensive since external players intervened.
On the other hand, Professor at Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Policy Hooshang Amirahmadi argued that Iran's foreign policy as declared by its own constitution is fundamentally interventional as it affirms the theocracy's responsibility in supporting the victimised Islamic groups globally. He added:"Iran is a power that is expected to play its role differently in the region by making allies instead of enemies."
In conclusion, Ghabra noted that Iran's intervention in other countries will be counteractive and that the nuclear deal is a brilliant one that should continue as it serves the interest of the region. According to him, Iran also needs to change its perspective of Arabs and should have them on its side.
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