Changes in the priorities

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 Muhammad Mehdi
Iran’s landmark accord should not be bracketed with solely America. Russia and China are also the main players. Iran cannot neglect them and afford a complete bent merely on the US. In this perspective, a debate has intensified that Pakistan must follow the footsteps of Iran and learn a lesson from its well-knitted pact. However, before this awesome pact is judged by its spiral benefits, tipping point is how it affects Iran-Saudi Arab relations.  

Iran President Hassan Rohani has mentioned in his book “Strategy Amnet Mill” that he had to visit Saudi Arab in the capacity of Secretary General of Iran’s National Security Council following bombing of KhobarTowers in Saudi Arab as Saudi authorities suspected Iran’s hand in such blasts. And it was highly imperative to remove these apprehensions. In his book, Hassan Rohani also talked about his pleasant parley with Saudi successor Prince Naif Bin Abdul Aziz. He also mentioned “we both agreed during President Khatami’s regime that peace pack should be made between Iran and Saudi Arab.” In pursuance of this purpose, they decided to constitute four committees. Saudi has always been hostile against Iran’s nuclear programme. In such unsavory situation, both dignitaries made positive talk over the issue.  Former President Khatami also favoured cordial ties between Iran and Saudi Arab. However, Hassan Rohani stated that after Ahmadi Nijad became president, there could be no headway for the formation of committees and striking of peace pact. It is point to be pondered that if influential of both countries feel the fortunes of good ties, then why not foes could be tuned to friends so far. Where are clash of interests. Do they exist or not. This is big question which answer needs to be explored.

Iran, in terms of oil reserves, is among in the list of important countries but due to thorny ties with International community, it has never any role in determining the prices of oil. In the absence of Iran, Saudi is the leading player and thus has great importance in the eyes of international powers.

Given the situation, it is defining moment for Iran to optimize this temporary accord by shaping it into sustainable and permanent. If Iran succeeds in making thing happen, it will not only be among those bodies which decide the oil prices but also Saudi Arab’s international sway will be undermined.

Saudi Arab is also encountering a problem and which is that its influence in Arab world is at the ebb. In Egypt issue, Qatar and Saudi Arab stayed alienated and both were also poles apart in Syria unrest. Moreover, Saudi Arab feels uneasiness after US decided not to attack Syria. Meanwhile, Qatar and Behrain expressed satisfaction on recent Iran deal. Under the changed scenario, if America makes substantial headways in Palestinian conflict, it would lead to massive changes in the priorities of Arab world.  And if it happens, Saudi Arab would not be able to keep its present status intact further.

Iran has girded up its loins to adopt a new role and such elevation will put Iran on high pedestal where its importance will spread out even to Al-Qaeda like issues. Bernut Robben, former senior advisor to US special representative for Pak-Afghanistan and expert of Afghan issue in Center for International Cooperation New York University, claims that Iran has been backing up US anti-forces to abstain from imminent danger might be posed by America and Israel. This shows how much Iran could help out America in Afghan quagmire.

In payback of its proposed role in Afghanistan, Iran authorities would try to get sorted out its long-pending issue of River Helmand between Afghanistan and Iran. The river fulfills irrigation needs of Afghanistan cities including Kandhar, Helmand and Namroze. Iran’s province Seestan also depends on the river to irrigate its lands. A pack was signed in 1973, but on the allegation of digging illegal wells near at Iran’s boundary, Afghanistan had intercepted the river water due to which Iran’s province Seestan is facing water scarcity issues.

Iran seems to cash in its services, might be asked to it at any time. As per tentative estimation, six-month agreement would give boost to Irani economy up to 10 billion dollars. Its oil industry would start booming and if this accord runs smoothly, Europe, China and Russia will be eager to signs multiple agreements with oil-rich country of Iran. The situation would prove as genuine oxygen to revolution and Iran could also be in a strong position to assure its youth of gaining economic growth nevertheless continuation of revolution.

Iran also wants to make fully functional and effective its port of Chah Bahar by having lifted various embargos over it. This port has a capacity to bring trade benefits to Central Asia, Afghanistan and India. It also wishes to end US pressure on Pak-Iran gas pipeline agreement besides financial aids from the West to lay down this splendid pipeline.

Following series of incidents in Syria, US administration has sped up efforts to safeguard its interests spanning over from Afghanistan to Arab world. Senior Fellow in Atlantic Council Ayan Barzanksi reveals that Americans have deep anxiety over Iran agreement observing that East Coast has come under the range of Irani missiles. Senate foreign affairs chairman Senator Robert fear that the agreement would not limit Irani nuclear programme. Senator Charles feels that it negates protocols done on unequal basis. Anti-government lobbies in US brands it similar pact made with North Korea in 2005. And pro-government groups term it a ditto copy “Intermediate Nuclear Forces Agreement” singed during US ex-president Regan in 1987. This was called Regan’s Suicide Pact by National Review. However, time proved it later a successful step. Israeli reaction is understandable. Nitan Yahu resembled it to Munich pact 1938 in which UK prime minister Chamber lane shook hands with Nazis and left central Europe at the their complete mercy. Israeli’s anxiousness bases on reality but question is whether there is a same intensity between Iran and Saudi Arab. To my perspective, answer is in negation. Although there is strong concept among us that Iran-Saudi rift was not between two countries but between two Islamic lands and their enmity would last forever. However, I have difference of opinion over it.

During Shah Iran era, ties between Iran and Saudi Arab were at their best. Shah-e-Iran has mentioned in his book “Answer to History” that Iran had friendly relation with neighbouring countries like Kuwait, UAE and above of them Saudi Arab. “I visited Saudi Arab many times and all Muslim in the world hold great esteem for Saudi Arab. I offered Haj twice and I pray that may Allah Almighty bless Saudi Arab to keep guarding sacred places of Makkah and Madina forever,” he added. In 2007, Irani President Ahmadi Nijad toured Saudi Arab on official invitation of Saudi government. Saudi rulers Shah Abdullah gave him warm reception at RiyadhAirport and got published a picture with fervor in which both had been walking gluing their hands. Same year, Saudi National Security advisor Prince Bandar Bin Sultan visited Tehran. However, such cordial ties could not work much more to dampen deep hatchets between them. Fanning smothering hostility, rumour ran amok that Saudi Arab had acquired atomic bomb as a part of conspiracy to create misunderstanding among Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arab. Pakistan is sole country which cherishes pleasant relations with both Iran and Saudi Arab. It is high time for Pakistan to capitalize its position and play its role to minimize harshness between Saudi Arab and Iran. And I believe that Pakistan has potential to do so. I am also of the opinion that if Iran salvages from permanent restrictions, it should not influence Arab in a way that could whip up enmity against Saudi Arab.

Saudi Arab also needs to have a peace with Iran. It will be good for Saudi Arabia to allow construction of shrines and sacred tombs to promote better image in the Islamic world and get rid of sectarian rivalry.