Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to visit Iran but Saudi Arabia may be displeased?
Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan is planning to visit Iran once all arrangements have been made. This especially applies to meeting President Hassan Rouhani of Iran and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Therefore, senior political elites in Japan and Iran are formalizing a plan for Abe’s visit to Iran.
Of course, domestically, the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, the territorial dispute with the Russian Federation, and China’s ongoing geopolitical and military strategy are more important. Likewise, trade issues between America and Japan still need to be solved because President Trump of America may further his tariff approach. Hence, Abe is taking a risk because tensions between America and Iran are far from the common discourse in Japan.
Similarly, it remains to be seen how Saudi Arabia views the role of Japan mediating between America and Iran. After all, Saudi Arabia seeks to contain Iran and this is more likely given the role of John R. Bolton, the current National Security Advisor of the United States. This especially relates to the hawkish approach of Bolton who is extremely hostile to Iran.
Reuters reports, “Trump has condemned the Iran nuclear deal, signed by his predecessor Barack Obama, as flawed for not being permanent and for not covering its ballistic missile program and its role in conflicts around the Middle East.”
If Abe does meet Rouhani and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei then suspicions would abound that America and Iran want a way out. Yet, it is doubtful that Saudi Arabia would be pleased because Obama was deemed to be too weak and the more hawkish approach by Trump is welcomed in Riyadh. This applies to Iran spreading its influence in Syria and in other nations on Obama’s watch.
Hence, Abe’s approach seems rather whimsical and not well thought out unless Japan is in direct talks with Saudi Arabia. Also, internally, the crisis between America and Iran is far from the concerns of the majority of the Japanese electorate.
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