September 10, 2017

KNOWING YOUR ALLIES:

'Our Partners Have More To Lose Than We Do' : Iranian Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi says his country wants to continue adhering to its nuclear treaty, even if the United States withdraws.  (Interview Conducted By Susanne Koelbl, 9/10/17, Der Spiegel)

DER SPIEGEL: [...] Some weeks ago, Iran tested a new ballistic missile. Is this wise timing amid growing tensions?

Salehi: If the U.S. considers this an issue, then it is their problem. Nowhere in the nuclear agreement does it say that Iran does not have the right to develop its missile capacity. We are exercising our rights and it is the other side that is trying to interpret this as a provocative act. Every day for the last 38 years, we've dealt with the U.S. or other countries issuing different accusations against Iran. One day we are not "democratic enough," the next day it is about "human rights" or "false elections.

DER SPIEGEL: Isn't there some truth in that?

Salehi: There are countries in the region which have no elections at all, nor basic rights for their citizens -- where, for example, women can't even drive. But because they are in the political orbit of the West, especially the U.S., they are being left alone.

DER SPIEGEL: How does Tehran view the U.S. president's close cooperation with Saudi Arabia?

Salehi: From what I have gathered, the U.S. is in a state of confusion. Even the European allies of the U.S. do not know which strategy President Trump is pursuing. This confusion is not directed against us alone, but it has negatively impacted the U.S. administration's governance and its allies in the region. For example, recently Qatar.

DER SPIEGEL: Although the emirate is home to the U.S.'s most-important military base in the Persian Gulf, Donald Trump allowed a Saudi Arabia-led group of states to isolate Qatar.

Salehi: Suddenly you wake up and you find out that Qatar has been cut off from the military alliance of the Gulf States, the Gulf Cooperation Council. I really can't say that Qatar was a friend. In the case of Syria and in other regional conflicts it has always been on the other side. But now we are providing them with access to airspace, access to the sea and roads, because we are their only outlet. True political practice requires wisdom and a rational approach. That is why we are making these concessions to Qatar.

DER SPIEGEL: This could make Saudi Arabia's leaders even more furious. They already see themselves as surrounded by Iran.

Salehi: I lived in Saudi Arabia for four years, I know many of their officials. We always had our different views, but also enjoyed a relatively good relationship in different domains, such as economics, trade and tourism -- visitors from Iran going to Saudi Arabia and vice versa. The Iranians do not have any designs on the land or the wealth of others. We have our own ample gas and oil, and vast land.

Our allies aren't going to stop trading with Iran, so we can only hurt our own businesses.
Posted by at September 10, 2017 10:27 AM

  

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