The editor of Asr-e Iran, Jaffar Mohammadi, wrote an op-ed listing the nine countries that stand to lose the most from improved relations between Iran and the West. Although Israel and Arab countries in the Persian Gulf were included on this list, what made the article stand out was that Iran’s allies such as China and Russia made the list as well. What’s more, Mohammadi even included the United States as one of the countries with which improved relations can be mutually beneficial.
The first country mentioned on Mohammadi’s list is Israel. “For Israel’s politicians, nothing is more valued than an extremist government in Iran, so remarks by the president and other officials can promote Iran-phobia and introduce our country as a threat to world security,” wrote Mohammadi. “Thus, when [Hassan] Rouhani was announced the winner, Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, constantly spoke against the people’s vote, and cautioned the world against changing their relations with Iran.”
“It is the Zionists’ wish to have America fight a proxy war against Iran and with American hands, remove a big challenge for them in the region,” Mohammadi continued. “The presence of a moderate president and administration makes this wish unattainable for them.”
In a rather blunt assessment as far as Iranian media is concerned, Mohammadi included Russia on the list. “The Russians can be considered one of the winners of conflict between Iran and the West,” Mohammadi wrote. “The Bushher nuclear plant was supposed to be built by the German company Siemens but because of the crisis between Iran and the West, it fell into the hands of the Russians.” It is not known exactly how much Iran has paid Russia to work on Bushher, but the expense and delays have been a source of controversy.
“In addition to the wide economic benefits Russia has derived from its relations with Iran,” Mohammadi wrote, “it has played the middle man in regard to the nuclear file because Iran has not been close to the West and has been able to derive concessions from both sides, specifically from Iran.”
Mohammadi’s criticism of Chinese goods is another surprising point, and a topic many ordinary Iranians have taken issue with. “Although China’s economic shadow weighs heavy on the world, it has a special place in Iran,” Mohammadi wrote. “By exploiting the sanctions, they keep the money from Iran’s oil and give us Chinese goods to the point that the expression ‘Chinese junk’ has entered the Iranian vocabulary. If the sanctions did not exist, it would be possible to take dollars, and it would be possible to buy better products from all over the world.”
Mohammadi also criticized Iran’s relationship with India, to which Iran sells oil for rupees, forcing Iran to buy Indian goods.
The next four countries that Mohammadi believes will not benefit from improved Iran-West relations are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. “Saudi Arabia knows itself as Iran’s biggest competitor in the region,” Mohammadi wrote. He believes that Saudi Arabia has benefited from Iran’s weakness in the various countries and institutions they are currently competing in.
“The United Arab Emirates, with specifically Dubai as a middleman, derives the biggest benefit from Iran sanctions,” Mohammadi wrote. “Improved Iranian international relations would gradually eliminate the UAE as a middle man.” The presumption is that with improved relations, some sanctions on Iran would be eliminated and major exporters to Iran, such as China, would directly export to Iran.
Mohammadi believes that Qatar will also not benefit from improved Iran-West relations in the area of the joint South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf. “Under international provisions,” the article says, “access to the field is free to both countries and each country can extract as much as they are capable of. Qatar, with access to international abilities and modern technology, has been able to access 20 times more gas than Iran.” The article continued, “With the breaking of sanctions, Iran can have access to trustworthy equipment and contractors.”
The last of the Persian Gulf countries mentioned was Bahrain. Mohammadi believes that “Bahrain welcomes a weak Iran so that the majority of the Shia of this country do not have the support of a powerful country like Iran.” Iran has been a vocal critic of the Sunni ruling family’s crackdown on protests in Bahrain, which is a majority-Shia country.
Turkey also stands to lose with improved relations, according to Mohammadi. “Because of the increase in sanctions,” Mohammadi wrote, “much of Iran’s trade potential has been focused on Turkey, such that thousands of Iranian companies have registered in Turkey the last few years. Although Turkey has not benefited like the UAE, with the new shipping sanctions on Iran, Turkey can be a corridor for ground transportation and benefit from this.”
“Improved relations between Iran and the West, specifically the United States, will have many enemies, especially Israel,” Mohammadi wrote. “It can be predicted that diplomacy to reduce tensions will be accompanied by many difficulties, and it is here that the tact of the two sides can play a positive role. Relations between Iran and the West, if it is logical and based on mutual respect, will certainly be to the benefit of both sides, even though the countries against it may not be happy about it.”