The Iranian media sees the heightening tension between Qatar and Saudi Arabia – two member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (G.C.C.) – as an opportunity to weaken the U.S.-Arab alliance against Iran and its proxies in the region. An article in Tasnim News Agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.), praised Qatar for “standing up” to the Saudi Arabia and its allies and seeking better relations with Iran. “Qatar, which is paying attention to these attacks [by Saudi media], continues to praise Iran as an important country in the region and ed President Hassan Rouhani by phone and declared that the only way to deal with Iran is dialogue,” noted another article in Tasnim. “With this, it invalidated all the results of the Riyadh summit,” it claimed.
But another analysis piece in the I.R.G.C. outlet said that it was too soon to judge the outcome of Qatar’s tense relations with Saudi Arabia. It explained that Riyadh and Doha have in the past resolved their disputes through dialogue and mediation by other Arab countries. It added that they may again reach an agreement to defuse bilateral tension because of three reasons: First, Saudi Arabia does not want Qatar to join Riyadh’s rival camp in the region; second, other G.C.C. member states do not support the expulsion of Qatar from the alliance; and third, Washington also does not want Qatar to join the “Iran axis” – which would weaken the G.C.C. and benefit Iran in Syria and Iraq.
Comment: The Riyadh summit earlier this month attended by President Donald Trump and leaders of about 50 Muslim countries added to Iran’s worry about the creation of an “Arab-NATO” to contain Iran’s growing influence in the region. “The US and the Zionist and al-Saud regimes have created sensitive and complicated conditions in the region and have hatched dangerous plots to continue crisis, war and bloodshed in the region within the framework of an Arab NATO," Iran’s Defense Minister General Hossein Deghan warned after the summit.
But the latest diplomatic spats between Qatar and Saudi Arabia have provided some relief to Tehran. The Iranian media has covered the latest Doha-Riyadh dispute extensively and urges the Rouhani government to exploit inter-Arab rivalry to weaken the anti-Iran alliance. The Saudi-Qatari tension, wrote the state-run Iranian Labor News Agency, “provides not only an opportunity for our country’s diplomatic apparatus to promote unity in the region but also a card to play in order to disrupt the ceremonial summit of Arab countries against Iran and the resistance front after Trump’s highly hyped trip to Riyadh and the region.” It further reasoned that the dispute shows “there are serious cracks in the anti-Iran Arab front and a lack of collected will to implement the U.S. policies in the region.”
The latest diplomatic row between Riyadh and Doha began last week after media reports surfaced that claimed the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, during a speech at a military ceremony, called Iran a “big power,” praised Qatar's “good” relations with Israel, criticized Trump, and threatened to withdraw ambassadors from Saudi Arabia and some other regional countries.