(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Ayeni Olusegun |
Doha, Qatar: Iran's Look East policy has bolstered relations with Qatar and fostered tangible consequences in its relations with the country's neighbours, Head of the Iranian Studies Unit at the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) and Professor of Government at Georgetown University Qatar, Mehran Kamrava has said.
Speaking to The Peninsula on the sidelines of the third 'Iran's Look East Policy' conference, Kamrava said,“One of the things we see is a deepening of relations with Qatar. So it's not just that Iran and Qatar have remained friends; we have seen again and again that there have been exchanges and deeper trade and bilateral relations between Iran and Qatar.
“The Iranian president's first trip abroad was to Qatar. He's again been invited -- this is all quite significant.”
Since June 2017, Qatar and Iran have experienced growing economic and political relations, notably after Tehran fully supported Qatar during the blockade.
Also, both countries share the South Pars/North Dome field, which is the largest gas field in the world, covering 9,700 square kilometres of the two countries' territorial waters.
Iran has also seen ties warm up with other Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) members, particularly Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Iran and Saudi Arabia had cut ties in 2016 after an attack on Saudi missions in Iran. However, both sides agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies after an agreement in March this year.
Kamrava said the rapprochement with Saudi Arabia shows the essence of the Iranian policy, calling it“quite an important undertaking by Iran” regionally and globally. On September 5, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Iran arrived in the country, and his counterpart landed in Saudi as both sides cemented a restoration of ties after the seven-year rupture.
“The Look East policy has had important and tangible consequences for how Iran has been relating to its neighbours, particularly its Arab neighbours like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, in addition to its old traditional allies. We see Iran having become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Iran having joined the BRICs group. So, I think it's imperative forto understand better why Iran is implementing this policy and the consequences for Iran and its immediate environment, but also for the larger environment. That's quite important,” Kamrava added.
Meanwhile, the conference, which concluded on Friday, saw several panel discussions on the role of China in Iran's Look East policy and the Chinese response to Iran's approach toward the East; Iran, India, Malaysia; Iran, Central Asia, South Caucasus; Economy, Sanctions, Trade, Energy Sector; and Look East Policy Risks and Challenges.