A senior Iranian official visited the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, just days after Tehran agreed to restore diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia in a China-brokered deal that raised hopes of broader rapprochement in the Middle East.
Ali Shamkhani, the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said his visit was a “significant beginning for the two countries to enter a new phase in political, economic and security relations,” Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA reported. He was said to be accompanied by the head of the Central Bank of Iran and other senior officials.
He met with UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and other senior officials to discuss “ways to improve cooperation between the two countries,” the UAE’s official news agency WAM reported.
IRANIAN TEENAGE GIRLS HUNTED BY POLICE FOR POSTING VIRAL TIKTOK DANCE TO SELENA GOMEZ SONG
Sunni Arab rulers in the Persian Gulf have viewed Iran with suspicion since the 1979 Islamic Revolution toppled a US-allied monarch in Tehran. Relations have deteriorated since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 as Shiite-majority Iran has expanded its influence in the region and backed powerful armed proxies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and the Palestinian Territories .
In the Chinese-brokered deal, which built on talks in Iraq in recent years, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to restore diplomatic ties that were severed in 2016 when Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shia cleric and Iranian demonstrators stormed his embassy in Tehran.
The deal raised hopes for a lasting peace in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been at war with the Iran-allied Houthi militia since 2015. This conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and brought the poorest country in the Arab world to the brink of famine.
22,000 ARRESTED DURING IRANIAN PROTESTS, GOVERNMENT SAYS
The United Arab Emirates, a close ally of Saudi Arabia that has also intervened in Yemen, sent its ambassador back to Iran last August for the first time since 2016, as did the Gulf Arab nation of Kuwait. A major international business hub in the UAE, Dubai is home to a large Iranian community.
But suspicions still run deep, especially after a series of attacks on oil tankers off the UAE coast and Saudi oil facilities in 2019, which were widely blamed on Iran. Last year, a drone strike by the Iran-backed Houthis hit Abu Dhabi, tarnishing the UAE’s reputation as a safe haven in the volatile Middle East.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
The UAE became the first of four Arab nations to normalize ties with Israel in the so-called Abraham Accords in 2020. The two countries were drawn together in large part because of their shared suspicions about Iran. Israel considers Iran its greatest threat, and the two countries have been engaged in a shadow war for several years.
The Saudi-Iran deal has raised concerns in Israel, which has long hoped to forge an alliance with the Gulf Arab states against Tehran.
Source : www.foxnews.com