Iran's Persian Gulf Policy: From Khomeini to Khatami

Iran's Persian Gulf Policy: From Khomeini to Khatami

Iran's Persian Gulf Policy: From Khomeini to Khatami

Iran's Persian Gulf Policy: From Khomeini to Khatami

Synopsis

This book examines the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran towards the Persian states from 1979 to 1998. It covers perceptions Iranians and Arabs have of each other, Islamic revolutionary ideology, the Iran-Iraq war, the Gulf crisis, the election of President Khatami and finally the role of external powers, such as the United States.

Excerpt

The election of President Muhammad Khatami in May 1997 marked the beginning of a new era in Iran’s foreign relations. His call to establish trust was more than welcomed, in particular by Iran’s neighbours in the Persian Gulf. The warm reception offered to them at the Islamic Conference Organisation summit in Tehran in December 1997, and the equally friendly welcome granted to former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani by Saudi Arabia in early 1998, were milestones in the slow process of rapprochement. Although this had been under way since the end of the Iran-Iraq war and the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in the past it had tended to be overshadowed by distrust. Now both sides were making increased efforts and Khatami defined good relations with Iran’s Gulf neighbours as a top foreign policy priority. Like his predecessor he realised that the security and stability of the Persian Gulf region is vital for Iran’s national interest and its domestic well-being. The waterway is Iran’s economic lifeline through which almost all of its imports and exports, including oil, are being handled.

The twenty-year period of relations between Iran and the Gulf states since the Islamic revolution of 1979 until 1998 can best be characterised as turbulent and unstable since it included major changes such as the revolution, the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), the Gulf Crisis (1990-1991), as well as regional conflicts such as the dispute over Abu Musa and Tunb islands, and the problems at the annual hajj pilgrimage. The complex relationship was inevitably influenced by these factors as well as the fear of the export of revolution on behalf of Iran, and other external considerations, such as the presence of the United States in the region. This study shows the evolution of a foreign policy under Khomeini, Rafsanjani and Khatami. Whilst focusing on official Iranian policy, the viewpoints of the six Gulf states and the effects of the Iranian revolution on their foreign and domestic policies will also be considered.

The key questions are: (1) What is the historical background of the relationship and how has it shaped mutual perceptions and policies? (2) How have Iran’s national interest and religious, revolutionary ideology influenced its policy towards the Gulf states; and did this influence evolve over the . . .

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