Iran–Arab relations

Iran–Arab relations

Iranian–Arab relations have always been very mixed. Within the Middle East historical conflicts have always colored neighbouring Arab countries' perceptions about Iran. At times peacefully coexisting, while at other times in bitter conflict. North African Arabs have for the larger part enjoyed closer relations with Iran due to limited historical connection between them and Iran.

Arab League states in dark green, Iran in Red.]

Context of Relations

:Ethnicity and Language::Iran is Persian country. About 3% of Iranians are ethnic Arabs and native speakers of Arabic (see Demography of Iran).:Religion
Arab Christians generally follow Eastern Orthodox Christian sects, while Iranian Christians follow non-Orthodox Christian sects.

Arab country neighbors of Iran

Non-neighboring Arab countries


The Islamic conquest of Persia (637-651 CE)

The Islamic conquest of Persia led to the end of the Sassanid Empire and the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia (modern day Iran). However, the achievements of the previous Persian civilizations were not lost, but were to a great extent absorbed by the new Islamic policy.

There are many conflicting stories about how the Sassanid Empire fell to the invading Arabs. The entire war had been decisively summed up in the battle of Qadissiya, where a small contingent (a few thousand) of Arab foot soldiers defeated the well-equipped Persian army. There are many accounts that the Persian army had surrendered for their lack of loyalty to their king who was known to have a short temper and little love for his subjects. After the subjugation of the Persian army, the Arabs marched straight into the heart of Persia, where libraries, statues, and tributes to kings of old were burnt at stake. Much of this destruction and onslaught has left a bitter taste in Iranian nationals, as the old Persian language was literally erased from the pages of time. The most scorching reminder of the Arab's invasion was left upon the city of Persepolis, built by Darius the Great during the golden age of the ancient Persian Empire. Its monumental statues were cut in half as Arabs laid claim that the Persians were engaged in idol-worshipping and blasphemy. The only monument to have survived the destruction was the tomb of Cyrus himself. An old story claims that the keepers of Persepolis convinced the Arabs that this was a tomb commemorating Solomon, a Prophet dear to the Muslims and many other religions.

Relations with Pahlavi Dynasty


Algeria always traditionally supported Iranian efforts to obtain high oil prices through OPEC, often to the detriment of its relations with other Arab countries. In 1975 Algeria worked to bring about the Algiers Agreement between Iran and Iraq, thus ending decades of tension between the two countries over their shared border.


In 1970, Iran simultaneously laid claim to both Bahrain and two other Persian Gulf islands (the Lesser and Greater Tunb Islands), however in an agreement with the United Kingdom it agreed to 'not pursue' its irredentist claims on Bahrain if its other claims were realised. The British withdrew from Bahrain in August 1971, making Bahrain an independent emirate, meanwhile the strategic Persian Gulf Islands were returned to Iran in exchange. [Iranian Islands (Abu Musa, Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb) [] ] [Patrick Clawson. "Eternal Iran". Palgrave. 2005. Coauthored with Michael Rubin (historian). ISBN 1-4039-6276-6 p.9, 10]


As long as Egypt (united with Sudan until 1956) and Iran were governed by monarchies, their relations in the 20th century could be described as relatively cordial. For a long period they shared a common interest of struggle to throw off the yoke of imperial interference and domination from the United Kingdom. The two royal houses were in fact joined together briefly in the abortive marriage of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran to Princess Fawzia, the sister of King Farouk of Egypt and Sudan in 1939.

With the overthrow of the Egyptian and Sudanese monarchy in 1952 and the emergence of Gamal Abdel Nasser as the republican champion of the pan-Arab cause, relations between the two countries deteriorated. Egypt's ill-fated adventure in the Yemen in the early 1960s drew pointed criticism from the Iranian authorities, and the Egyptians responded with revanchist threats to conquer the predominantly Arab Iranian province of Khuzestan (also known within the Arab World as Arabistan). Nasser was also one of the first Arab leaders to popularize the term Arabian Gulf in reference to Persian Gulf, an act which greatly offended Iranians and continues to do so even today.

Nasser's successor, Anwar Sadat, began his career as a military man and a staunch member of the Revolutionary Command Council that overthrew the monarchy and erected the republican system in Egypt. Nevertheless, when he took over the presidency, on Nasser's death in 1970, he became a close friend and confidant of that quintessential monarch, the Shah of Iran. Diplomatic ties were cemented and commercial relations expanded. Egypt under Sadat regarded the Shah as a partner in stability for the region and a bulwark against rising currents of Islamic extremism [ [ Commentary No. 22: Egypt and Iran: Regional Rivals at Diplomatic Odds ] ] .


Independence in 1930s.
*1955: The Baghdad Pact, a military-security agreement, comprise in the beginning Iraq and Turkey, later Britain, Pakistan and Iran.
*1959: Iraq withdraws from the Baghdad Pact.
*1974 March: Fights between government forces and Kurdish groups. The Kurds received aid from Iran. Kurdish cities like Zakho and Qalaat Diza are razed to the ground, and hundreds of thousands of Kurds flee the cities.
*1975: Settlement of border disputes with Iran (Iraq keeps all occupied territories), makes Iran stop aid to the Kurds, and the revolt is crushed.


Iran and Oman have always had close ties covering the economic, cultural, political, and military spheres.

Between 1970 and 1975, Sultan Qaboos the ruler of Oman acknowledged Iran's regional strength and obtained Iranian military assistance in fighting the Saudi backed Dhofar Rebellion.

During the same period an Omani-Iranian border agreement was also signed regarding the Straits of Hormuz [ [ Oman: A Unique Foreign Policy ] ]


Relations between Iran and Qatar have partially been based on proximity (important trade links exist between the two countries, including a ferry service between Doha and Bushehr) and partly on mutual interests. Iran was one of the first countries to recognize Shaykh Khalifa ibn Hamad in 1972. The maritime border between Qatar and Iran was delimitated as early as 1969, before the Noth Dome gas reservoir was discovered. The Iranian President paid a visit to Doha ont the 3rd and 4th of december 2007 as a guest to the GCC summit.

audi Arabia

United Arab Emirates

Since its release from the United Kingdom as a British protectorate on December 1, 1971 Iran has had frayed, but cordial, relations with the United Arab Emirates. Iran had previously, before the UAE's independence, repossessed the Greater and Lesser Tunb Islands in an agreement with the UK (see above section on Bahrain). Following its independence the UAE claimed the islands as its own. During the Pahlavi Monarchy of Iran, those claims were largely minimal.


Throughout Yemen's long civil war of the 1960s, Iran gave financial aid and a small quantity of arms to the Royalist government of the Zaydi Imam, though its contribution was small compared to that of Sunni Saudi Arabia. The Shah's help had less to do with Shia fellowship than with hindering the regional ambitions of Nasser, who had already deployed the United Arab Republic army on the Republican side. The Republicans were themselves dominated by a mainly Zaydi officer corps and most Shia and Sunni tribes were usually just a bribe away from changing sides. For the most part, the Arab Zaydis of Yemen have continued to evolve in isolation from their Shia brethren in Iran. [ [ Shi'ite Insurgency in Yemen: Iranian Intervention or Mountain Revolt?] , The Jamestown Foundation]

Relations with Islamic republic of Iran

After the Islamic revolution of Iran the foreign policy of Iran changed dramatically. In many cases diplomatically inimical Arab nations became more cooperative with Iran, while some formerly supportive nations decreased their support.

Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the Islamic revolution and founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its first supreme leader declared that, "The concept of monarchy totally contradicts Islam." Therefore Arab leaders developed a hostile attitude towards the Islamic republic of Iran. Khomeini's idea of supporting the "mustad`afeen" (those who are wronged or oppressed) as opposed to the "mustakbareen" (those who are arrogant) led to many problems with neighboring countries due to some Arab regimes being judged by Iranian jurists to be among the mustakbareen. Ayatollah Khomeini was open about his intention to "export" the revolution to other parts of the Muslim world. Thus, during the early 1980s, Iran was isolated regionally and internationally. This diplomatic and economic isolation intensified during the Iran–Iraq War in which almost all Arab states, except Syria, supported Iraq logistically and economically on moral grounds. According to some observers, Saddam Hussein fought on behalf of other Arab states that viewed the Islamic Republic as a potential threat to their stability. [ Has the Revolution Affected Iran's Relations With Its Neighbors?] ]

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the revolutionary zeal cooled and a degree of pragmatism was adopted by Iranian policy makers. During the presidency of Akbar Hashemi and Sayyed Muhammad Khatmi Iranian foreign policy switched to reducing international tensions and Iran tried to normalize its relations with its Arab neighbors. When the U.S. attacked Iraq in the early 1990s, it indeliberately promoted Iran's political influence in the Middle East. Since 2000 the situation has changed completely. The most significant factor has been the Bush administration's decision to attack Iraq in 2003 which led to the fall of Saddam, a ba'athist leader with pan-Arab sympathies who was determined to balance Shi'a Iran's regional influence. With the deposition of Saddam, Iran found a major obstacle to its expansion removed. This gave Iran a good chance to emerge as a major player in the Middle East with Islamic ideology which can fill the void of Marxism, Socialism and Nationalism in the region especially among Shia. As Richard Haass has quoted "Iran will be one of the two most powerful states in the region...The influence of Iran and groups associated with it has been reinforced." Iran could find allies in Arab world comprising Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. On the other hand some Arab states including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and United Arab Emirates united against Iran, which are supported by the U.S.. Other Arab countries, especially those in Africa, continued to have normal relations with Iran. [cite journal | last=Haass | first=Richard N.| authorlink=Richard Haass | title=The New Middle East | journal=Foreign Affairs | volume=Vol 85, Number 6 | issue= |date=November/December 2006 | id=] [ [ Iran by Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Eighth Report] ]

Another aspect of tension between Shia-dominated Iran and Sunni-dominated Arab countries has been sectarianism. While during the early days of the Revolution Ayatollah Khomeini endeavored to bridge the gap between Shias and Sunnis by forbidding criticizing the Caliphs who preceded Ali. Also, he declared it permissible for Shiites to pray behind Sunni imams. However, the influence of Iran on Shiite communities outside its borders and the territorial disputes with Arab neighbors among other issues remain as sources of tension in Arab-Iranian relations.


Following the Iranian Revolution, in 1981 Algeria's role was instrumental in the release of the US diplomatic hostages held in Iran [ [ Algeria :: Foreign relations - Britannica Online Encyclopedia ] ] .

The two countries broke off ties in 1993 after Algeria accused Iran of supporting the Islamic Salvation Front, the major opposition of the Algerian government. The charges were denied by Tehran. In 1998 Iran became increasingly critical of Algeria's heavy handed security forces, especially during several massacres during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and led efforts to pressure Algeria to act more humanely through the international community [ [ BBC News | Analysis | Iran calls for action on Algeria ] ] . Algeria in turn blamed Iran for the massacre [ [ BBC News | MIDDLE EAST | Algeria denounces Iran ] ] .

After a decade, in early September 2000, diplomatic relations between Algeria and Iran were re-established in a decision made by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and his Algerian counterpart Abdulaziz Abdelaziz Bouteflika on the sidelines of the United Nations millennium summit [ [ Iran, Algeria Resume Diplomatic Relations ] ] . The resumption of relations paved the way for a number of agreements "on bilateral cooperation in the areas of judicial affairs, finance, industry, and air transport" [ [ Khatami to visit Algeria, Sudan, Oman next month ] ] . Relations continued to strengthen rapidly after that to the extent that in 2002 Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani and Algerian Joint Chief of Staff Muhamed al- Imari Wednesday signed and agreement for military and technical cooperation in Iran [,+Algeria+sign+MoU+for+military+cooperation.html?refid=ency_topnm] . In the recent 2006 UN vote on Iran's nuclear programme, Algeria abstained from voting [ [ BBC NEWS | Middle East | Key nations' stances on Iran ] ] .


After 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, Bahraini Shia fundamentalists in 1981 orchestrated a failed coup attempt under the auspices of a front organisation, the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain. The coup would have installed a Shia cleric exiled in Iran, Hojjat ol-Eslam Hādī al-Mudarrisī, as supreme leader heading a theocratic government. The Bahraini government unofficially regarded the coup as Iran attempting to overthrow their Sunni government. Iran denied all knowledge saying the fundamentalists were inspired by the Iranian revolution but had received no support from Iran. Fearful of a recurrence, the episode caused Bahrain to crack down on its Shia population putting thousands into jail and further souring relations with Shia Iran. Recently the countries are beginning to enjoy closer relations again and have engaged in many joint economic ventures. Iran has been severely critical of Bahrain hosting the US navy Fifth Fleet within the Persian Gulf.


Relations between Egypt and Iran collapsed with the sudden eruption of the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1978-79. When the Shah fell, Egypt was bound to disapprove of his replacement, Ruhollah Khomeini, who returned the sentiment in full measure. Furthermore, in 1979, Anwar Sadat infuriated the new Iranian government by welcoming Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the exiled Shah of Iran, for a short, but indefinite, stay [ BBC News | MIDDLE EAST | Sadat's assassin honoured again in Teheran ] ] . In 1980, Iran officially cut all ties with Egypt. This move was a response to the 1978 Camp David Accords, as well as Egypt's support for Iraq in the Iraq-Iran War [ BBC NEWS | Middle East | Egypt wooed with new street name ] ] . In 1981, Iran symbolically dedicated a street to Khaled Islambouli, Sadat's assassin.

While trade relations slowly improved during the 1990s , Khaled al-Islambouli was honored for a second time in 2001 "with a huge new mural" in Tehran . Two years later, in late 2003, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami met with the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Geneva. Khatami openly invited Mubarak to Iran, but Mubarak refused to make such a trip or normalize relations until all "public tributes" to Islambouli were "erased". In early 2004, Iran agreed to change the offending street name to Muhammad al-Durrah, a 12-year-old boy who was famously killed by the Israeli Defense Force in the opening days of the Second Intifada .


On 17 September 1980, after the Islamic Revolution in Iran settled down, Iraq under Saddam Hussain declared the previous settlement of border disputes with Iran null and void. Several days later on September 22nd Iraq invaded Iran in the Iran–Iraq War. Lasting till 1988 the brutal war killed over one million people and critically soured Arab-Iranian relations. The Iranian government officially viewed the conflict not as Arab vs. Iranian but from a religious perspective of Shia versus Sunni, although many in Iran did view the conflict as an Arab versus Iran issue. In Iraq the conflict was continually presented in a historical context as Arab versus Persian. The impact of the war was devastating to relations in the region; general Arab support for Iraq and a fear of Shia Muslims led to many disputes between Iran and the other Persian Gulf Arab States. The war was a primary cause for the rise of Anti-Arabism within Iran, which had until then been largely insignificant. The war ended with a UN sponsored cease-fire.


In 1980, Iran cut all ties with Jordan after the outbreak of Iran–Iraq War. Relations between the two nations resumed in 1991.

In September 2000, "King Abdullah met with Iranian President Mohammad Khatami on the sidelines of the Millennium Summit in New York. [] Shortly thereafter, trade between Jordan and Iran increased dramatically. According to figures from Jordan's Central Bank, "trade between Jordan and Iran reached $20 million in 2001, up some 46 percent on the previous year's $13.7 million." [ [] ]

On September 2 and 3, 2003, King Abdullah II visited Tehran, making him the first Jordanian king to visit "Tehran since the launching of the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979". [ [ Jordanian King concludes a historical visit to Tehran Khameini, the Americans have to leave Iraq ] ]


After the Shia Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, Kuwaiti Prime Minister then Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (now the Amir of Kuwait) visited Iran and congratulated the Islamic Revolution, yet the Sunni led government of Kuwait became fearful of its large Shia population and of possible Iranian hegemony in the Persian Gulf and began to regard Iran with increasing suspicion. When the Iran–Iraq War broke out with Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran, Kuwait deeply supported the Iraqi move. It was an action that was bitterly resented by Iran. Throughout the war Kuwait provided Iraq with billions of dollars in military and social aid as well as logistical support by allowing Iraqi use of its ports. Iran consequently led a failed attempt to attack a Kuwaiti refinery complex in 1981 (intercepted and blocked by Iraqi air force), which inspired subsequent acts of sabotage in 1983 and 1986. In 1985 a member of the underground pro-Iranian Iraqi radical group al-Da'wah attempted to assassinate the Kuwaiti ruler, Sheikh Jabir al-Ahmad Al Sabah [ Kuwait :: Iran–Iraq War - Britannica Online Encyclopedia ] ] .

In September 1986, while the Iran–Iraq War was still raging on, Iran began to concentrate its attacks on Persian Gulf shipping, largely on Kuwaiti tankers in an effort to dissuade Arab support for Iraq. This led Kuwait to invite both the Soviet Union (with which it had established diplomatic relations in 1963) and the United States to provide protection for its tankers in early 1987.

In 1990, following the Persian Gulf War Iraqi-Kuwaiti relations suffered bitterly and consequently Kuwaiti-Iranian relations began to improve. Bilateral relations were gradually strengthened, with exchanges of Iranian and Kuwaiti political and economic delegations leading to the signing of several economic and trade agreements.

In February 2006, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vistied Kuwait opening a new chapter in relations between the two countries. The well reported visit was the first to Kuwait by a high-ranking Iranian official in 27 years [ [ Iran, Kuwait: Persian Gulf’s axis of stability ] ] .



Libya broke rank with most of the Arab states when it came out in support of Iran during the Iran–Iraq War.


In June 1987, President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya severed all diplomatic relations with Iran in protest of the nation's supposed refusal to negotiate an end to the Iran–Iraq War.


In 1981, Iran cut off all diplomatic ties with Rabat in response to King Hassan II's decision to give asylum to the exiled Shah. A decade later, diplomatic relations between the two nations were renewed, but another decade would have to pass before Abderrahmane Youssoufi, the prime minister of Morocco, would lead the first Moroccan delegation to the Islamic Republic of Iran. [ [ BBC News | MIDDLE EAST | Moroccan premier ends visit to Iran ] ] Iran supports the independence of Western Sahara as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.


During the Iran–Iraq War Oman remained neutral, preferring to take no sides. This allowed it to be in the position to attempt to bring Iran and Iraq into a negotiated settlement after the war in 1994.

Since then peaceful ties have continued and expanded [ [ Irna ] ] .


The Islamic Republic regime of Iran (established after the 1979 Iranian Revolution) closed the Israeli embassy in Tehran and replaced it with a Palestinian embassy. Iran favors Palestinian national ambitions and officially endorses the replacement of Israel with a unitary Palestinian state. However, Iran has also stated its willingness to accept a two-state solution if the Palestinians find this acceptable.

Iran does not recognize the state of Israel and instead regards it as Palestine under occupation. During the era of the Iranian Monarchy (1948-1979) under the Pahlavi Dynasty, Iran enjoyed cordial relations with Israel. Israel regarded Iran, a non-Arab power on the periphery of the Arab world, as a natural ally and counterweight to Arab ambitions as part of David Ben-Gurion's alliance of the periphery. Even after the Iranian Revolution and Ayatollah Khomeini's public condemnations of the "Zionist entity", Israel shipped arms to Iran for use against Iraq, which it regarded as the greater threat. Iran suggests that all Israeli occupied territory is either given back to their respective countries (ex. Golan Heights back to Syria) or is replaced with a Palestinian state. Iran also feels that Jerusalem should be given back to the Palestinians.


Throughout the Iran–Iraq War (1980-1988), Qatar supported Saddam Hussein's Iraq financially by providing large loans and cash gifts. Iran's claim in May 1989 that one-third of Qatar's North Field gas reservoir lay under Iranian waters apparently was resolved by an agreement to exploit the field jointly.

In 1991, following the end of the Persian Gulf War, Shaykh Hamad ibn Khalifa welcomed Iranian participation in Persian Gulf security arrangements, however due to resistance from other arabian Gulf Arab States these never came into fruition. Additionally, plans were being formulated in 1992 to pipe water from the Karun River in Iran to Qatar, but after local resistance in Iran this was laid to rest.

The Iranian community in Qatar, although large, is well integrated and has not posed a threat to the regime. Today relations between the two countries are cordial. [ [ Qatar - Foreign Relations ] ]

audi Arabia

Following the outbreak of the Iran–Iraq War, Iranian pilgrims felt they had to hold a political demonstration against Saudi support for Iraq during the Iran–Iraq War during the Hajj in Mecca. In 1987 they succeeded, however Saudi police crushed the demonstration violently causing the Iranian pilgrims to riot.

Immediately following the riot, Ruhollah Khomeini called for Muslims to avenge the pilgrims' deaths by overthrowing the Saudi royal family. The Saudi government blamed the riot on the Iranian pilgrims and claimed that the pilgrim riot had been part of a plot to destabilize their rule. The following day mobs attacked the Kuwaiti and Saudi embassies in Tehran.

In 2001, Iran and Saudi Arabia signed a "major security accord to combat , drug trafficking and organized crime". [ [ BBC NEWS | Middle East | Country profiles | Timeline: Iran ] ]

In 2008, the Saudi King Abdullah invited former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to visit Saudi Arabia for the purpose of attending an Islamic conference. Rafsanji responded by saying that the opportunity was a way "Iran and Saudi Arabia can resolve differences in the Muslim world." [Al-Issawi, Tarek." [ Saudi King Abdulla Invites Iran's Rafsanjani to Saudi Arabia] ," "Bloomberg", May 15, 08.]


In 2006, the Islamic Courts Union took over Mogadishu from CIA-backed ARPCT. Iran has been one of several nations backing the public uprising. According to Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi, Iran, Egypt, and Libya are helping the militia. The Prime Minister accuses these countries of wanting more conflict in Somalia, which seems contradictory because of the Transitional Government's inability to extend authority beyond Baidoa, which is something the Islamic Republic sees [ [ Somalia: Iran, Libya and Egypt helping militia : Mail & Guardian Online ] ] .


In 1991, "there was evidence of increasing economic and military links between Sudan and Iran... Some 2,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards were allegedly dispatched to Sudan to assist with the training of the Sudanese army, and in December President Rafsanjani of Iran made an official visit to Sudan, during which a trade agreement between the two countries was concluded. In November 1993 Iran was reported to have financed Sudan's purchase of some 20 Chinese ground-attack aircraft. In April 1996 the Government was reported to be granting the Iranian navy the use of marine facilities in exchange for financial assistance for the purchase of arms although, in response to a Sudanese request for military aid in 1997, Iran provided assistance only with military maintenance." [ [ Sudan Government, Politics, Foreign affairs - Relations with Egypt, Libya, Iran and USA ] ]

During the last week of April 2006, Sudanese President Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir met with a number of Iranian public figures in Tehran, including the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In a joint news conference with al-Bashir on 24 April, Ahmadinejad explained to the public his belief that "expansion of ties between the two countries serves the interests of both nations, the region, and the Islamic world, particularly in terms of boosting peace and stability." Before the conference ended, al-Bashir congratulated Iran for its successful pursuit of "nuclear power for peaceful purposes," while Ahmadinejad restated his opposition to the participation of UN Peacekeepers in Darfur. [ [] ]


During the Iran–Iraq War Syria sided with Iran and was isolated by the other Arab countries, with the exception of Libya. Iran and Syria have had a strategic alliance ever since, based partially on their common animosity towards Saddam Hussein. Although the two countries differ in both dominant religion (Shia versus Sunni) and ethnic identity (Persian versus Arab),this has helped to prove that the Iranian external policy is not dominated by the sectarian view but by the Islamic view in general (which is common between both Syria and Iran). On June 16, 2006 the defence ministers of Iran and Syria signed an agreement for military cooperation against what they called the "common threats" presented by Israel and the United States. Details of the agreement were not specified, however Syrian defense minister Najjar said "Iran considers Syria's security its own security, and we consider our defense capabilities to be those of Syria." The visit also resulted in the sale of Iranian military hardware to Syria. [ [ Iran News - Iran, Syria sign defense agreement ] ] [ [ Iran, Syria sign a further defence co-operation agreement - Jane's Defence News ] ] . It should be noted, however, that the Syrian leadership, including President Assad himself, belongs predominantly to the Alawite branch of Shi'a Islam.

On February 17, 2007, Presidents Ahmadinejad and Assad met in Tehran. Ahmadinejad afterwards declared that they would form an alliance to combat US and Israeli conspiracies against the Islamic world. []


Following labour unrest led by the General Union of Tunisian Workers throughout the 1970s and early 80s, in 1987 President Bourguiba instigated a massive purge of Tunisian politics under the pretext of a "terrorist conspiracy" sponsored by Iran. Iran protested and diplomatic relations were promptly broken. On 27 September 1987, a state security court found 76 defendants guilty of plotting against the government and planting bombs; seven (five in absentia) were sentenced to death [] [ [ Tunisia (History) formally became a French protectorate, the country was a monarchy, with the Bey of Tunis as Head of State ] ] .

In September 1990, Tunisia and Iran restored diplomatic relations once again. Relations remained unchanged until June 1999, when the speaker of the Tunisian Parliament, Fuad al-Mubze, became the first Tunisian official to visit Iran since the beginning of the Islamic Revolution in 1979. His visit was intended to reflect "the rapid improvement in bilateral relations since the setting up of the joint committee for cooperation on the level of the foreign ministers in the mid-1990s" [ [ Tunisian official visits Tehran for the first time in 20 years ] ] . By 2000, trade relations between the two nations reached USD 73 million. [ [ Iranian president confers with Tunisia prime minister ] ] The following year, on April 19, 2001, Tunisian prime minister Muhammad al-Ghanoushe visited Tehran on "an official visit" to sign a new joint trade agreement with his counterpart. [ [ Tunisian prime minister to visit Iran ] ]

United Arab Emirates

Following the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the UAE has been pushing for the return of the islands. The countries maintain very close economic ties and the UAE has a significant Iranian expatriate community. [ [ United Arab Emirates - Foreign Relations ] ] Outstanding conflicts are:
*UAE claims two islands in the Persian Gulf currently held by Iran: Lesser Tunb (called Tunb al Sughra in Arabic by UAE and Tonb-e Kuchak in Persian by Iran) and Greater Tunb (called Tunb al Kubra in Arabic by UAE and Tonb-e Bozorg in Persian by Iran);
*UAE claims island in the Persian Gulf jointly administered with Iran (called Abu Musa in Arabic by UAE and Jazireh-ye Abu Musa in Persian by Iran) - over which Iran has taken steps to exert unilateral control since 1992, including access restrictions and a military build-up on the island;

Western Sahara

On February 27, 1980, Iran gave formal recognition to the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as the legitimate government of all Western Sahara. They have continued their support for the Polisario Front ever since. [ [] [] ] Expand-section|date=June 2008


Following the first two decades of the Islamic Revolution, ties between Tehran and Sana'a were never strong, but in recent years the two countries have attempted to settle their differences. [ [ Iran and Yemen sign seven documents for cooperation] , Payvand's Iran News, 2003-05-16.] One sign of this came on 2003-12-02, when the Yemeni foreign ministry announced that "Yemen welcomes Iran's request to participate in the Arab League as an observer member." [ [ Yemen supports giving Iran the observer seat at the AL] ,, 2003-03-12]

On 2006-05-10, "the Yemeni ambassador to Iran Jamal al-Salal met... with the Iranian deputy foreign minister for the Arab and North Africa Affairs Mohammad Baqiri and the deputy assistant of the foreign minister for educational affairs and researches Mohammadi respectively. The meeting centered on boosting mutual cooperation between the two countries and means to reinforce them. The talks also dealt with issues of common interest at the regional and Islamic levels." [ [] , UPI, down as of 2007-12-04]

ee also

*Iran-Iraq relations
*Foreign relations of the Arab League
*Foreign relations of Iran
*Territorial disputes in the Persian Gulf
*Persian Gulf naming dispute



*"Kuwait" Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006. Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. 18 Apr. 2006.
*"Oman: A Unique Foreign Policy Produces a Key Player in Middle Eastern and Global Diplomacy" RAND Organisation.
*"Henner Furtig" and "Anoushiravan Ehteshami". Iran's Rivalry With Saudi Arabia Between the Gulf Wars. 2006, Ithaca. ISBN-13: 978-0863723117

External links

* [ Iranian Foreign Ministry]
* [ Omani Ministry of Foreign Affairs]
* [ Persians Are Not Arabs]
* [ PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer: Governing Iran]

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