When former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died Jan. 8, it was thought that his death might be another nail in the coffin of Saudi-Iranian dialogue, and thus usher an era of additional tension between Tehran and its Arab neighbors. Yet a personal condolence letter from Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud to the family of Rafsanjani, followed by a visit of Kuwait’s foreign minister to the Iranian capital Jan. 25, give a different indication.
Indeed, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah al-Khaled al-Ahmad al-Sabah came to Tehran with a letter from the emir of Kuwait, Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, on behalf of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), about the necessity of improving relations. On Jan. 26, Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah told reporters that the Iranian side showed understanding and readiness to react positively to the letter, saying, “The message and its content focused on laying the foundations for a joint dialogue based on the abstention from interfering in Gulf affairs and respecting the sovereignty of the GCC states and all the UN [Security] Council articles. It will be a breakthrough in the bilateral relations between the Gulf and Iran.”