Tuesday 21 Aug 2018 | 06:30 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 21 Aug 2018 | 06:30 | SYDNEY

Middle East: Business is business


Rodger Shanahan


13 April 2011 09:01

Largely lost among the north African and Levantine Arab political unrest and the Libyan no-fly zone, has been the ratcheting up of the Persian Gulf cold war between Iran and its Arab neighbours. 

Recently, Kuwait sentenced two Iranians and a Kuwaiti to death on charges of spying for Iran. Tit-for-tat expulsions of Iranian and Kuwaiti diplomats has followed

Bahrain has placed two Iranians and a Bahraini on trial on charges of spying for Iran's Revolutionary Guard. Iran and Bahrain had already withdrawn their ambassadors and expelled one diplomat each over the Bahraini government's bloody crackdown on mainly Shi'a protestors last month. 

In Iran, there has been criticism amongst elements of the clerical class that the Iranian government has not done enough to support the Bahraini Shi'a.

The head of the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign affairs committee has also called for a re-evaluation of bilateral ties with the UAE, following what he considered to be Abu Dhabi's hard line in opposing Iran's regional interests. 

For its part the Gulf Cooperation Council met in a special session just over a week ago, to issue a terse criticism of Iranian interference in the internal affairs of GCC member states.

But despite all the tensions over perceived Iranian regional political aspirations, as all good Gulfies know, business is business and the security tensions between the Arabs and Persians are not reflected in trade relations. Dubai remains the major re-export hub for the Islamic Republic and this year is expecting over a ten percent increase on the nearly $9 billion of bilateral trade conducted last year. 

Despite (or perhaps because of) the spy scandal, Iran and Kuwait signed an economic cooperation agreement in February this year, while Tehran has also recently inked an agreement on the creation of a regional transport corridor that would boost trade with Oman among others.

Photo by Flickr user zerega.