Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Tehran with Ebrahim Raisi, President of Iran Image Credit: Twitter/@Tbzayed

A UAE delegation, led by Sheikh Tahnoun Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the National Security Adviser, was in Iran last week and met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a landmark visit that underscores the UAE’s consistent policy in this region to initiate constructive communication and build bridges with even those we don’t agree with.

During the Tehran meeting, the two sides “discussed prospects of strengthening bilateral ties and explored a range of issues of common interest,” an official statement said after the meeting.

The visit, which came at the invitation of Ali Shamkhani, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Iranian Security, underlines the UAE’s position that all means should be explored to achieve regional stability and prosperity through productive dialogue, promoting common interests and de-escalating tensions in order to find peaceful solutions to regional challenges.

Iran is an important neighbouring country, with which the Gulf states have historical relations that goes back centuries. But we must say that these ties haven’t been at their best in the past four decades.

Iran’s expansionist policies

The GCC is wary of Iran’s continuing expansionist policies that have been a major source of regional tension, especially the interference in the internal affairs of Arab states and supporting, funding and arming proxy militias that have been the main threat to many Arab countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missiles programmes are another clear and present danger to the security of this vital region.

However, as Iran engages with the West to revive the nuclear deal, we have recently noticed an Iranian desire to engage with its Arab neighbours. The continuing talks with Saudi Arabia is part of that obviously.

The UAE, which has always been a force for peace and development in the region, realises that the new challenges facing the region, including the coronavirus pandemic, required all parties to cooperate closely, not only in the medical field but also in other fields — security, particularly maritime security, food and water security as well as environmental challenges and climate change.

Therefore, the UAE, which has had major differences with Iran, is working to manage the disagreements and find areas of cooperation, Anwar Gargash, the Diplomatic Adviser to President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said recently.

“We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s interference in Iraq, Syria and Yemen and have taken steps to de-escalate tensions. We don’t have any interest in confrontation as the region will pay the price for decades to come,” Dr Gargash explained.

In this context comes the all-important visit of Sheikh Tahnoun to Iran- to build communication and bridges with all countries, even those who we don’t agree with to forge closer cooperation in the interests of all the peoples on this critical part of the world.