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Iran maneuvers to capitalize on Qatar crisis

Iran has so far cautiously stood with Qatar amid the Saudi-led confrontation with Doha, but there are indications of this caution's giving way to more assertive Iranian support.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks to the media in Tbilisi, Georgia, April 18, 2017. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili - RTS12PQO
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On June 5, Saudi Arabia along with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and trade relations with Qatar, effectively imposing a siege on Doha. Besides the many discussions surrounding its causes, the apparently Saudi-led move against Qatar has sparked debate in Tehran on Iran’s policy toward the rift — and the consequences it might bring about. Officially, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quick to respond, tweeting on June 5, “Neighbors are permanent; geography can’t be changed. Coercion is never the solution. Dialogue is imperative, especially during blessed Ramadan.” Meanwhile, Hamid Aboutalebi, the president’s deputy chief of staff for political affairs, tweeted that severing relations is not the right way out of crises. Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said differences among Iran’s neighbors threaten the interests of all states of the region and urged them to overcome differences through dialogue.

As such, Tehran chose to criticize the Saudi-led approach toward Doha by stressing the need for dialogue instead of confrontation. But does Iran really want the rift mainly within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to be overcome?

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