News ID: 321820
Published: 0336 GMT May 22, 2022
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Regional cooperation pact necessary

Regional cooperation pact necessary
MOJ

Ebrahim Beheshti Staff writer

Iranian President Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi departs Tehran for Muscat today to enhance bilateral cooperation and, of course, address the regional situation and the expansion of cooperation between regional countries. The Sultanate of Oman has historically enjoyed amicable relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Furthermore, Oman has a solid reputation and track record among the regional states for regional cooperation.

Exploring bilateral cooperation, particularly for the development of economic and trade ties, seems to be the most important aspect of the Iranian president’s trip to Oman. That is why a 50-member delegation comprised of Iranian traders and businessmen entered Muscat ahead of the president’s arrival. It is predicted that the friendly diplomatic relations between the two countries pave the ground for boosting bilateral economic cooperation as well.

However, the trip is also important from another aspect, and that is the exploration of regional cooperation. Earlier this month, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani visited Tehran following a recent trip by President Raeisi to Doha. Oman and Qatar are among the countries that have good diplomatic relations with both Iran and other regional and even transregional countries. As a result, they can use this capacity for developing political and economic relations between the countries of the region.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has always defended the ideas of development, security, and stability in the region if it’s initiated by the regional countries themselves. According to Iranian officials, the best approach for bringing countries closer together and resolving disputes is regional talks, which can replace the interventions and contributions made by transregional powers.

Within this framework, the Islamic Republic has already put the Hormuz Peace Initiative on the tables of its southern neighbors. Ever since Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi was sworn in as Iran's new president, he has often announced the “good neighborliness policy” to be one of the priorities of his administration.

In addition to these general ideas originating from Iran, Tehran has held a series of talks to resolve its disputes with Saudi Arabia through the Iraq government’s mediation for months now. Tehran has even repeatedly voiced its readiness to hold bilateral talks with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over a dispute concerning three Persian Gulf islands. So, it seems that Iran has a serious will and determination to realize its vision of bolstering regional cooperation.

Bolstering regional cooperation is doubly important since, despite their numerous historical, religious, cultural, and economic commonalities, the Middle Eastern countries have not been able to use these common grounds and capacities to solidify and strengthen their economic and security ties due to some misunderstandings, disparate understandings of their own interests, and of course, interventions from transregional powers.

It would not be unfounded to suggest that the clear example of non-cooperation and forfeiting of numerous commonalities is the absence of a regional organization or cooperation pact which is collectively agreed upon by the countries of the region. It is something that exists in many regions of the world despite disagreements. These regional pacts have proved useful in preventing the escalation of tensions and, of course, bolstering cooperation. Clearly, the need for a similar regional pact is felt in the Middle East. Its absence has occasionally caused the interests of nations to be at odds with each other.

Now that the U.S. government has declared a plan to shrink its presence in the region, not only is the need for forming a comprehensive cooperation pact in the region felt even more, but also its formation has been facilitated. The Islamic Republic of Iran has announced its ideas and its readiness to walk along such a path. If the countries of the region do not look favorably upon Iran’s ideas for any reason, it is only fitting that they lead the way and put some new initiatives on the table instead of being passive and insisting on misunderstandings and disputes. Of course, the prerequisite of any initiative is to have the countries of the region be at the center of it rather than leave it dependent on the intervention and contributions of transregional powers.

That being so, the Iranian president’s trip to Muscat and the preceding trip of the Qatari emir to Tehran can now be seen in a different light, and it can be asked, “Will they lay the groundwork for bringing countries of the region closer together?” Doha and Muscat enjoy proper capacities for laying the groundwork for more talks between governments of the region, much like how the Iraqi government laid the groundwork for talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

 

   
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