The Language We Use and the Price We Pay

18 March 2009 | 18:29 Code : 4202 Middle East.
Indiscreet diplomatic remarks may be as harmful as sanctions.
The Language We Use and the Price We Pay
One week after the spat between Bahrain and Iran, Bahrain’s foreign minister stated that his country has received Iran’s guarantee that no more threats will be made against Bahrain’s sovereignty and the crisis is over.

We can guess what heavy pressure the Iranian diplomatic body endured after Nategh Nouri’s remarks, the consequent Arab media commotion and official protest of the state of Bahrain. Messages were sent and meetings were held replace Bahrain’s anger with a smile.

Hasan Qashqavi’s (Foreign Ministry Speaker) remark that Iranian statesmen rhetoric does not lead to sanctions is not void of pertinence, but we must acknowledge that such indiscrete remarks have cost us a great price so far. Regarding sanctions as the legitimized, principled representation of imposing pressure on a country, we could say international pressures rising from measures not related to sanctions have more detrimental results for our country now and again.

The most remarkable instance was Ahmadinejad’s comments on wiping Israel off the map and Holocaust which infuriated United States, European countries and other allies of Israel; such that three years after his speech they have kept it fresh, using it as a frame of reference to interpret Iran’s moves, dubbing Iran a permanent threat against Israel.

The aftermath of that speech has lingered so far, affecting many decisions made by European countries. Since the comment, Western media have increasingly attacked Iran; many pro-Israel groups have drawn on false analogies targeting Iranian officials with the harshest accusations.

Such remarks stretched the dispute over Iranian nuclear program and made the international community pessimistic. The international community now analyzes Iran’s scientific activities only through a military prism and asks for guarantees, just like Bahrain.

Why and how a remark causes dispute between two or several states? Qashqavi is right when he says remarks made by statesmen won’t impose sanctions, but we should remind him that even one sentence or article by our statesmen can disturb bilateral ties, jeopardize a gas export deal and rock the situation in a way that every Iranian politician has to deny [the existence of any territorial claim] and appease Bahrain, Bahraini officials have to be invited to Tehran, messages should come and go, incentives must be offered and finally, Bahrain’s foreign minister must announce that he has received the guarantee.

All the bashing after Iranian president’s comments abut Holocaust put the issue off the agenda of Iranian diplomats and gave a more deliberate tone to Iran’s protests against the Zionist regime, restricting them to denying the legitimacy of Israel.

Taking black or white stances in a diversified atmosphere fuels discord. When disregarding and belittling minorities and backing a certain ideology causes tension even inside the country, the international community is definitely more sensitive and the more the diversity, the more the risks and prices. No country should consider itself as superior or different in the international community and even those countries which enjoy a privilege due to their military and economic supremacy pretend to have equal rights as others, demand other countries’ contribution and avoid unilateralism.

Disparaging statements against weaker countries may be more irreparable and deleterious than we imagine. We should have calculated the price we pay by acting in this way when a newspaper affiliated to the Iranian regime published an uncomplimentary article on Bahrain.

Nategh Nouri’s statements on the 30th anniversary of the Iranian revolution, addressing Bahrain’s history –when it was Iran’s 14th province- led Bahrain to summon Iran’s ambassador, and threaten to reconsider its negotiations with Iran on the gas deal.

Bahrain, besides other five members of GCC, called for Iran’s apology in the council’s last summit. Tehran-Rabat relations also stepped into tension and the Morocco officially cut its ties with Iran.

To name a few, the Iranian president, parliamentary and foreign ministry speaker, interior minister and head of the Expediency Council tried to appease Bahrain, meanwhile not forgetting to attack West as the culprit of tensions between Iran and Arab states. The tensions forced Iran to send an envoy to Bahrain. Foreign minister of Bahrain was invited to Iran and after a meeting behind closed doors Sheikh Ahmad Ale Khalife came out smiling while announcing that his country has received guarantee from Iran’s on respecting his country’s sovereignty.

The aftermath of Nategh Nouri’s remarks proved that the price of indiscreet comments is not less than sanctions. After Morocco officially severed its relations with Iran, an Arab newspaper reported that Iran has sent a delegation to this country to compensate. Regardless of the validity of the news, we should be aware of the harmful effect of these statements and their repercussion in mass media which bring us the risk of isolation and international pressure.

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