Distances between Sunnis and Shiites created by foreign powers, says Iranian President

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani held a press meeting at the airport before setting off on official visits to Oman and Kuwait. Rouhani said, “Iran has no intention of intervening in the affairs of other countries or imposing its own religion, sect or politics on anyone. Iran’s policy is to collaborate and maintain a friendly relationship with Islamic countries.”

Rouhani reminded the listening reporters that Kuwait had sent a message to Iran on behalf of six gulf countries stating that these countries wanted better relations with Iran, overcoming and misunderstandings of the past; “we want to discuss this with these countries in our visit,” the President said.

On Monday, the White House released a statement in which it said US President Donald Trump spoke to the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Kuwait, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and Iraq’s Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, warning the Middle Eastern leaders of Iran’s activities and threat to the region, and urged them to collaborate with the United States of America against Tehran.

When outlining the objectives of his trip, which comes only two days after the White House’s statement, Rouhani said, “Today we must seek unity, we must remove the fake distances between Sunnis and Shiites created by foreign powers. Sunnis and Shiites have lived together for hundreds of years. The fear between Iranians, Shiites and our neighbours is being pumped in by the foreigners. If there are problems between us, we can solve them through dialogue. Iran always wants to further its relations with regional governments and is working for stability, unity and security in the region.”

Donald Trump has been sharpening his rhetoric towards Iran and tweeted last week that “Iran is rapidly taking over Iraq”. Rouhani’s latest trip to the Gulf region will only unsettle the White House even more with Iran seeking to further relations with countries traditionally in line with US policies in the region. With Russia seemingly taking the lead in Syria, the US’s manoeuvrability in the region is, at the very least, not what it used to be.