Top UAE adviser's trip to Iran marks new step toward regional reconciliation: analysts

Source: Xinhua| 2021-12-08 23:20:24|Editor: huaxia

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi (R) meets with UAE's National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan (L) in Tehran, Iran, on Dec. 6, 2021. (Iran's Presidential Website/Handout via Xinhua)

The UAE official's visit to Iran is seen as part of a wider process to deescalate tension in the region, analysts said.

TEHRAN, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) national security adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited Tehran on Monday and met with top Iranian officials, registering a diplomatic move described by analysts as a further step toward improving bilateral ties and regional reconciliation.

During his visit, Sheikh Tahnoon met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Secretary of the country's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani, who had invited the UAE official.

Sheikh Tahnoon's trip was the first by a senior UAE official to Iran since 2016, when the UAE reduced its level of political and diplomatic ties with Iran. The growth in differences between Iran and the UAE culminated in the latter's 2020 normalization of relations with Israel, which Iran described as a betrayal of the Palestinian people's rights.

Experts and analysts note that Sheikh Tahnoon's visit is more than a simple one by a top UAE official and can be seen as a new link in the chain of developments unfolding in recent months in the Middle East, which started with talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia to thaw out tensions.

UAE's National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan talks in a meeting with Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, Iran, Dec. 6, 2021. (Iran's Presidential Website/Handout via Xinhua)


In his meeting with Raisi, the UAE security official said improving relations with Iran is on the UAE's agenda as the two sides are in the same region and naturally affected by regional developments.

Sheikh Tahnoon voiced the UAE's willingness to enhance cooperation with Iran and expressed hope that a new chapter would open in bilateral ties with a possible visit of the Iranian president to his country.

Raisi also said strengthening relations with regional countries is among the top priorities of his administration's foreign policy and that his country welcomes the development of relations with the UAE.

Warning against foreign interference in ties between the two countries, the Iranian president said there must be no obstacle to the improvement of ties between the two Muslim states.

Describing Iran as an important country in the region with a unique geopolitical position that connects the East to the West, Sheikh Tahnoon also said close and brotherly ties between the two countries are a priority in the UAE's policies.

For his part, Shamkhani, the senior Iranian security official, emphasized that lasting stability and security will be ensured only through constant dialogue and cooperation among regional countries, saying relations among regional states should by no means be impacted by the interventionist policies of transregional powers.

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi (R) meets with UAE's National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan (L) in Tehran, Iran, on Dec. 6, 2021. (Iran's Presidential Website/Handout via Xinhua)


The UAE official's visit to Iran is seen as part of a wider process to deescalate tension in the region, analysts said.

The UAE's decision to downgrade relations with Iran in 2016 followed the suit of Saudi Arabia, which cut diplomatic ties with Iran in January 2016 after angry protests were held outside its embassy in the Iranian capital in reaction to the kingdom's execution of a senior Shiite cleric.

However, the Iran-Saudi ties, seen as essential to the developments in the Gulf, have shown signs of detente as direct talks between the two sides were resumed in April after a long time.

Iraq, acting as the main mediator, has hosted rounds of talks between the delegations of the two countries. In late August, Iraq also invited both Iran and Saudi Arabia to the Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership to further ease tensions in the region.

Earlier, Iran's Foreign Ministry said no precondition has been imposed by either side in the talks and that the two sides are trying to start a sustainable relationship within a mutually beneficial framework.

The situation in Yemen is among the main topics of Tehran-Riyadh talks. Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthi militia seized control of much of the country's north and forced the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of the capital Sanaa.

The Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened in the Yemeni conflict in 2015 to support the internationally-recognized government.

Since major regional countries are allies of either Iran or Saudi Arabia, the resolution of the problems between the two countries will lead to a major transformation in the developments of the region, analysts said.

People take part in a demonstration against Saudi Arabia, in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 4, 2016. A demonstration was held on that day in Tehran to protest against Saudi Arabia's execution of Baqer al-Nimr, a prominent Shia scholar who was known to be an open opponent to the Sunni ruling dynasty. (Xinhua/Ahmad Halabisaz)


Just a day before Sheikh Tahnoon's trip to Tehran, Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad arrived in the Iranian capital for a two-day visit, in the wake of a trip by the UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed to Syria and his meeting with the country's President Bashar al-Assad, all suggesting new regional dynamics.

Analysts hold that the visits as well as other recent regional developments are reflections of new policies pursued by the Raisi administration aimed at boosting ties with neighboring states and ensuring the region's security through greater cooperation among the countries within it.

In an analysis, Iran's official news agency IRNA wrote that Sheikh Tahnoon's visit can be assessed in relation to the Raisi administration's neighbor-oriented foreign policy, an approach that can help ensure regional stability and security if all sides demonstrate strong determination.

Tehran maintains that what takes place in the region should be addressed within the region and that sustainable security in the region can be ensured solely by regional countries.

Regional observers see previous visits by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani to the UAE and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed to Turkey as steps toward reducing regional tensions, noting Sheikh Tahnoon's trip to Iran was "aimed at further complementing the process."

Anwar Gargash, a diplomatic adviser to the UAE president, said in a tweet that Sheikh Tahnoon's visit was part of the efforts to enhance regional cooperation, as the UAE seeks to ensure stability and create prosperity in the region and to these ends, is making efforts to expand its positive relations through dialogue and joint measures.

KEY WORDS: Iran,UAE,Regional Reconciliation