Gulf States May Still Normalise Ties With Tehran Even With Raisi in Power, Middle East Experts Claim

While the president of the Islamic Republic may be set to change, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei still has the final word on the country’s policies, one expert pointed out.

Despite the fact that Iranians last weekend elected a hardline conservative as president, Ebrahim Raisi, Persian Gulf states still have a shot at normalising ties with their neighbour, several Middle East experts told Reuters.

By electing Raisi, Tehran has sent a “clear message” that it is tilting to a more “radical, conservative” position, UAE-based political analyst Abdulkhaleq Abdulla said. However, there are limits to such a shift, he added.

It is unlikely that Iran’s foreign policy, including towards regional powers, will change drastically, a Saudi columnist for the Okaz newspaper, Khaled al-Suleiman, wrote. He explained that even although the new president is not the moderate that Rouhani was, it is simply a change of face, as the real person in charge, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, remains in his position.

Iran Nuclear Deal as Leverage in Gulf Talks

Tehran has been working on mending relations with Gulf countries over the last couple of years following ties being abruptly cut with Saudi Arabia in 2016, along with similar developments with other regional powers. They accused Iran of meddling in their domestic affairs and of using proxies to destabilise the region. Saudi-Iranian talks in April this year reportedly focused heavily on Iran’s alleged support for Houthi rebels in Yemen, who…

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