World Bulletin / News Desk
- Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah’s visit to Tehran this week served to "break the ice" -- after years of animosity -- between the Gulf States and Iran, a Kuwaiti political analyst says.
Following years of tension, Kuwait’s top diplomat visited Tehran on Wednesday to discuss Gulf-Iran relations with Iranian officials.
The visit was seen as a bid to mend ties between Shia Iran and the Gulf States and find solutions to longstanding differences -- especially those between Riyadh and Tehran, which have remained at loggerheads since Iran’s 1979 revolution.
The Gulf States often accuse Iran of interfering in their domestic affairs -- allegations Iran has consistently denied.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Ayed al-Manna, a Kuwaiti political analyst and academic, said: "Despite the lack of information about the recent talks in Tehran, the initiation of dialogue between the two sides should be considered a source of cautious optimism."
At a Gulf Cooperation Council summit held last month in Bahrain, the six-nation bloc tasked Kuwait with initiating dialogue with Iran on its behalf.
"Statements made by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif [after the talks in Tehran] were positive," al-Manna said.
"He [Zarif] praised the role of Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah in promoting a ‘good-neighbor policy’ with countries of the region, indicating Iran’s acceptance of a mediating role for Kuwait," he added.
Major changes in the Middle East region, al-Manna went on, "will likely contribute to a degree of convergence".
"It’s hard to predict what policies newly-inaugurated U.S. President Donald Trump will pursue, given his anti-Muslim rhetoric and previous threats to reverse the  nuclear deal [between Iran and the West]," the analyst said.
Al-Manna went on to assert that the region’s current circumstances "require Iran to change its Gulf policy from one based on confrontation to one based on dialogue".
"The direct and indirect confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia has only served to wear down both sides, with neither able to get the upper hand on the other," al-Manna said.
"Both countries are regional powerhouses," he asserted. "Resolving their outstanding differences will have a positive effect on the entire region."
"In this regard," he added, "the Kuwaiti FM’s visit served to break the ice."
"But there are still many points of contention between the two sides," al-Manna concluded, pointing in particular to the crises in Syria and Yemen, where Iran and the Gulf States continue to support opposing sides in both conflicts.