Ayatollah Rafsanjani: Iran-Saudi ties are repairable

Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani has said that Tehran and Riyadh can improve their ties and that disintegration of certain Middle Eastern countries is not a regional demand.

Chairman of the Expediency Council Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has said that Iran and Saudi Arabia can mend fences if the two sides want to do so.

Ettela’at newspaper on October 11 published the remarks of Ayatollah Rafsanjani in a meeting in late September with the managing editor, editor-in-chief and a host of reporters of Shafaqna (the International Shia News Association). The following is the translation of part of Ayatollah Rafsanjani’s responses to a range of questions in the meeting, including the crises in the Middle East and the world of Islam:

Iran and Saudi Arabia

Ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia can be repaired. This can be done if we [the two sides] want to do so. It can’t be done unilaterally. For instance, if we voice readiness and they do not accept that on political or regional grounds or thanks to the conditions on the ground, or [they step forward but] we do not want to, improvement of ties will not become a reality.

But I think it is quite realizable. I should say that if we act properly, we can easily settle our issues with the Arabs. They too need to take appropriate measures. If a wise and moderate individual like King Abdullah had been in power, he would have settled the differences.

I was earlier a guest of Mr. Salman in a meeting in Riyadh. Back then I found him a sensible man. I think his inner circle is acting incorrectly and goes to extremes.

Balkanization of the Middle East

Disintegration is what foreigners are seeking [in the region]. They do not want to see a powerful country in this region. There are some who favor the breakup of Iran, Iraq and Syria into smaller countries at odds with each other.

Disintegration is not a simple process. Following the disintegration, whether the Shiites and Sunnis want to leave or remain in that country will become [yet another] bone of contention. These two cases will pose a threat [to people in the disintegrated countries].

Those who think disintegration will help the dust settle are in the wrong. Disintegration will backfire, because it will fuel tension and confrontation among different sections [of a splintered country]. What they [the foreigners] are after here in this region is to make the region lose power.

But this is not what we [Iranians] are calling for. We think people [of different ideologies] had better get along with each other. What is the use of being in conflict?

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