By Vahid Jafarian, Editorial Board Member
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani undertook a tour of Oman and Kuwait last Wednesday, a trip officials in Tehran said was meant to correct relationships with its Persian Gulf neighbors.
On Wednesday morning, Rouhani travelled to Muscat, where he had a brief meeting with Sultan Qaboos of Oman. The two were reported to have discussed bilateral relations and regional issues.
Rouhani then flew in to Kuwait City, where he met with Kuwait’s Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, who, last month, launched a dialogue with the Islamic republic to try and normalize Iran-Gulf relations.
Rouhani’s visit to two countries neighboring Iran was accompanied by large gains for Tehran, both politically and economically, International observers say.
Politically, the trip marked the shared will of two Arab states of the Persian Gulf – Oman and Kuwait – to develop ties with Iran as an influential country in the region.
It was especially important because of the recent efforts by some regional and cross-regional players to wedge the differences between Iran and its neighbors.
However, Rouhani’s travel to Kuwait and Oman was warmly welcomed by the officials, people, and the media of the regional countries and it proved that the provocative policies of some powers have yielded no results.
In other words, the several hours visit of Iranian president to Oman and Kuwait and the welcoming ceremonies of the highest ranks offered, marked the importance the neighbors hold for visit of Dr. Rouhani.
This comes amid reports that Trump administration was encouraging Arab states to join Israel in an anti-Iran alliance.
“Rouhani’s regional initiative to accept invitation of leaders of Oman and Kuwait signals the need for Islamic friendship and restoration of regional ties,” Hamid Aboutalebi, the Iranian president’s deputy chief of staff, tweeted last Tuesday.
“This regional initiative is an opportunity that our regional friends should seize. Opportunity passes like a cloud. Take advantage of the good opportunity,” he added.
From an economic perspective, the trip also has had great achievements for Iran and its neighbors.
‘Increasing marine routes between the two countries (Iran and Oman), easing the issuance of tourism and trade for the citizens of the two countries, developing economic and banking relations, and speeding the operations for constructing the gas pipe between the two countries, were among the top agreements between the heads of the two countries during this visit.’ Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi was quoted as saying in media.
In 2013, Iran and Oman signed an agreement to supply Iranian gas to Oman through a pipeline to be built under the Persian Gulf in a deal valued at $60 billion.
According to public media, Iran has begun talks with Oman over exports of at least 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas and certain agreements have been also reached between the two sides over construction of a subsea pipeline.
Finally, it seems that the recent visit to Oman and Kuwait by Iranian president could begin a new chapter in the economic and political cooperation between Tehran and its Arab neighbors in the future.
Photo: Iranian president Hassan Rouhani shakes hands with Sultan Qaboos in Muscat, Oman, February 15, 2017. President.ir/Handout via REUTERS