While Iran’s leaders have voiced support for Qatar and encouraged diplomatic talks to resolve the issues that Qatar is currently dealing with a land, sea, and air blockade. The blockade has been put in place by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who cut diplomatic and commercial ties with Qatar last month.
The group claimed it was due to Qatar’s financing of terrorism and working too closely with Iran. A list of demands from these countries was delivered to Qatar, which it dismissed as a grave infringement on its sovereignty. Saudi Arabia and its allies have threatened further sanctions if those 13 demands were not met. They recently extended the deadline for Qatar to agree to the demands.
Iran and its clerical leaders welcome the diversion, which came at the perfect time. President Trump’s recent visit to the Middle East included a conference where Muslim and Arab nations seemed ready to line up against Iran.
While Iran and Qatar share one of the largest gas fields in the world and have diplomatic relations, Qatar offers little in the way of strategic value to the regime. Despite this, Iran has offered support to Qatar. Recently, President Hassan Rouhani said, “Iran’s airspace, sea and ground transport links will always be open to Qatar, our brotherly and neighbor country.”
Yet, before this development, Tehran was preparing to face a united bloc of wealthy nations from the Persian Gulf, who had isolation on their minds. This plan of action was backed by the United States, with President Trump calling out Iran as the source of terrorism and the biggest threat to peace globally.
Saudi Arabia also cemented their ties with the United States during that gathering, completing a $100 billion deal for American weapons.
The picture from many Western nations, which has been supported by the Iranian resistance, is that Iran’s current regime is the primary source of instability in the region. Leaders point to Iran’s role in various countries, including Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. They also point to Iran’s funding of Hezbollah and other groups deemed to be terrorist organizations. This meant that the road to a united front in the Middle East against Iran seemed open, but then the in-fighting started and the unity fell apart.
The current list of demands is that Qatar close a Turkish military base, which would alienate Turkey, who is an ally of Syria and a member of NATO.
This is a familiar turn of events for the regime, whose regional competition with Saudi Arabia and the other Arab nations often means waiting for their agreements to implode on their own. Meanwhile, Iranian news outlets are reporting the increasing use of its airspace by Qatar Airways. Over the years, Iran’s strategy is often focused lying low, and thinking in terms of the long-term outcome versus short-term victories.
While their interests might be best served by no war, it is clear that Iran’s interests are ultimately served by a lack of unity from the other countries within the Middle East. The longer they lack any unity or ability to stick together regarding their actions toward Iran, the longer the regime will be able to continue propping up its power on the backs of the Iranian people.