Gulf concern over Ahmadinejad win

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's election as Iran's president will worsen the Islamic republic's already troubled foreign ties, including those with Arab Gulf neighbours, analysts in the region say.

    Ahmadinejad is a staunch critic of the United States

    Kuwaiti academic Ahmad al-Rabai, a former government minister and member of parliament, believes the election will further isolate Iran.

    "The victory of the new president will lead to a kind of isolation of Iran in the region," he said.

    "The region cannot deal with a [radical] ideological regime, therefore, I expect a regression in Iran's relations with the region, and the Gulf in particular."

    Revolutionary Guards veteran Ahmadinejad swept to a shock victory in Friday's runoff, a win set to spell an end to years of difficult reform and place the Islamic republic on a collision course with the West.

    Ahmadinejad, who seeks a return to the "moral purity" of the early years of the 1979 Islamic revolution, said on Saturday that his victory had "checkmated" the republic's "enemies".

    Islamic Revolution

    But Saudi political analyst Jasser Abdelaziz al-Jasser warned that "the Gulf region will witness tensions similar to the tensions witnessed in the region in the early years of the Islamic Revolution" in the predominantly Shia Muslim republic.

    Then Iranian leader Ayat Allah Khomeini was accused by governments in the area of trying to "export" the Islamic revolution across the Gulf, ruled by Sunni Muslim administrations who backed Iraq in its 1980-1988 war against Iran.

    "The victory of the new president will lead to a kind of isolation of Iran in the region.

    The region cannot deal with a [radical] ideological regime"

    Ahmad al-Rubhi,
    Kuwaiti academic

    Jasser said that Ahmadinejad's victory was "a reaction of the Iranian people against pressures and provocations exerted by the United States on Iran".

    "The United States and the West in general bear the responsibility of what happened," he said.

    The United States and the European Union are trying to convince Iran to abandon nuclear activities in a deal that offers incentives in return.

    Iran, which is engaged in talks with the EU, has the ambition to make its own nuclear fuel by enriching uranium, a process that can also be used to make the core of a nuclear bomb. Iran insists it only wants to generate electricity.

    American hegemony

    In Qatar, Mohammed al-Misfer, a political science university professor, said: "The presence of a radical person at the top of the Iranian leadership will increase the strength of the resistance to the American hegemony in the region.

    "This new Iranian hardening will be accompanied by a radicalism of the Shias in the region, which in turn will stir more confessional strife in Iraq and will lead to the radicalism of the Sunnis in Iraq and the region."

    "This new Iranian hardening will be accompanied by a radicalism of the Shias in the region, which in turn will stir more confessional strife in Iraq and will lead to the radicalism of the Sunnis in Iraq and the region"

    Mohammed al-Misfer,
    Qatari political science professor

    Abdullah al-Hamid al-Ansari, dean of the Sharia Islamic theology college in Qatar, said: "The elections were not a reflection of the free choice of the Iranian people since they were waged between a radical person and a more radical one.

    "I expect Iran to move to a hardening of relations with neighbouring states, especially concerning lingering issues (with countries of the region) and I expect Iran to adopt an even tougher stance in the nuclear file.

    "It will also limit the role of the reformists in Iran and will limit freedoms," he said.

    Kuwait government

    The Kuwaiti government however welcomed the "Iranian people's choice," after Ahmadinejad won the presidential elections, but called on Tehran to build "stronger

    bridges" with its Gulf Arab neighbours.

      

    "We welcome any choice taken by the Iranian people to determine their future and elect the leadership that will run their affairs," Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah told reporters in parliament on Saturday.

      

    Al-Sabah welcomed the victory
    of Ahmadijenad

    "We hope that the new Iranian leadership will be able to build stronger bridges with its sister nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)," he said in reference to the six-nation alliance that groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

      

    "There are (outstanding) issues between GCC states and Iran and we hope to be able to resolve them to the satisfaction of all parties," he said.

      

    Kuwait and neighbouring Iran are locked in a decades-old dispute over their maritime border in the continental shelf which contains the rich Dorra gas field.

      

    The two Gulf nations have held many rounds of talks in a bid to resolve the issue, but so far with no concrete results.

    SOURCE: AFP


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