Persian TV Channels in the diaspora devoted considerable coverage last week to the high-profile trips to Egypt and the UK by Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. In particular, BBC Persian and the other well known one, Manoto TV, produced lengthy reports and analysis on the trips.
Ordinary Iranians want to know more about the crown prince, so they can better understand what to expect in terms of relations between the two countries in the future; he is, after all, the next king of Saudi Arabia. However, they obtained little information from Iranian national TV channels, which concentrated mainly on the crown prince’s relative youth.
However, Iran’s rulers cannot hide the reality from their own people. Ordinary Iranians understand very well the importance of these trips with regard to the crown prince’s policies toward Iran. When Prince Mohammed stood side by side with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo, it was clear that both men viewed Iran as the greatest threat to regional security and stability, and that neither Saudi Arabia nor its regional allies will tolerate Iranians meddling in their internal affairs.
Every Iranian citizen suffers because of what these regional countries are complaining about. Iran’s support for militants in Syria and Iraq, its backing for the Houthi militias in Yemen, its fomenting of sectarian tension in Bahrain and Kuwait, are all different sides of the same coin.
The regime in Tehran calls these allegations a myth, and justifies its presence in Syria and Iraq as a request by the legal government of these two countries to assist them in fighting terrorists. It denies the allegation that it arms the Houthis in Yemen, despite a report issued by a United Nations investigation team which accused Iran of helping the Houthis to launch missile attacks on Riyadh.
No one knows better than ordinary Iranians, who live under the regime’s lies and its iron fist, that the clerical dictators cannot correct themselves, and have only one aim — to spread their sectarian ideology. That is why no one trusts state TV channels, which are full of lies and propaganda.
Opportunity after opportunity has been wasted, and today Iran is an isolated nation with no friends in the region or among the international community.
Even the 2015 nuclear deal, which was supposed to improve relations with Iran’s Arab neighbors and open a new chapter in regional cooperation, turned out to be a false dawn. In Egypt, Prince Mohammed bin Salman made clear his view that Iran had used the nuclear deal as a shield for its regional meddling. Even Iran’s supporters in the EU — France, Germany and the UK today — are coming round to that view. When the West complains about Iranian funding of militants and interference in regional conflicts, they do not do so based on Saudi allegations — they can see for themselves.
Now they wait to see if these issues can be resolved before the May deadline set by President Trump.
In the end, no one in this region wants to live with animosity, or in fear of another confrontation. Even analysts supportive of the Iranian regime stress the importance of Iran improving its relations with other countries — if only for the sake of preserving the nuclear deal, which is of paramount importance for the ayatollahs.
[Camelia Entekhabifard is an Iranian-American journalist, political commentator and author of Camelia: Save Yourself By Telling the Truth (Seven Stories Press, 2008). Twitter: @CameliaFard. The above article is first published by Arab News.]
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