Impact of Iran’s empirical ambitions on Arab world

Iran has proved particularly obtrusive in Bahrain, where according to Sky News Arabia, Bahrain Interior Minister Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa recently accused Tehran of opening terrorist training camps, sheltering wanted individuals, and smuggling explosives, weapons and ammunition into the country.


Moreover, at least some Iranian officials are presenting Iranian expansionism in the context of ancient Persian territorial goals. Rouhani’s advisor and former Minister of Intelligence Ali Younis, in a forum titled “The Iranian Identity” held in Tehran this March, stated that, “Today, Iran has once again become an empire as it has been throughout history. This empire’s capital is Baghdad, the center of our civilization, culture, and identity today as it was in the past.” These remarks are a clear reference to an attempted restoration of the pre-Islamic Sassanian Empire, which occupied Iraq. Younis continued in this vein, stating that “The entire Middle Eastern region is Iranian…we will defend all of the region’s people because we consider them part of Iran. We will stand against Islamic extremists who label others as infidels as well as the neo-Ottomans, the Wahhabis, the West, and the Zionists.”


It is unfortunate that the Iranian state has not followed a policy of neighborliness supported by many Arab states and even Iranian politicians like President Rouhani, since Iran and Arab states’ close proximity in the region can produce nuanced economic and territorial relationships. Despite Iran’s occupation of the Emirati islands, the Emirates tops the list of Arab trade with Iran – $17 billion in 2014. Kuwait and Bahrain also engage in trade and economic cooperation with Tehran, although to a lesser extent.


Tehran and Doha are connected by a massive natural gas reserve, 38% of which lies in Iranian waters and the remainder belonging to Qatar. According to a study by the Arab-Gulf Center for Strategy Research, the reserve is considered the largest in the world and could supply all of world’s natural gas needs for a decade.


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