Iran Fence Mending. Could it work? On President Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia there was a monitoring center built by Saudi Arabia that was introduced to him by King Salman. It is a state of the art center that will be developing videos and other informational content to combat extremist ideology around the world. Known as the “Ideological War Center” the stated goal is to monitor extremist ideology on websites (particularly those affiliated with the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda) with the intent of countering their extremist ideology and dismantling their websites. Not surprisingly, Iran was on King Salman’s hit list.
While Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia to improve ties with the Muslim world was a good start, it is incomplete. If Trump wants to get the most bang for the buck, there is a second country that will be just as important and that is Iran Fence Mending. And it makes sense. This is the issue that we need to work on and unfortunately Trump’s visit will only cause our relationship with Iran to deteriorate. Yes, Iran has given support to extremist ideology. But Al-Qaeda, Al-Shahab, and the Islamic State were inspired by Wahabi ideology, not Shia Islam.
Furthermore, in regards to Iran fence mending we might possibly have more behind the scenes human right leverage with people of the book (i.e. Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians) who have a constitutional right to practice their respective religions, at least within limits. The Iranian Constitution does state that all denominations of Islam will be respected. Yes Sunni Muslims may still be discriminated against in Iran, but overall, they are in a better position than their Shia brethren in Saudi Arabia. Iranians could elect a moderate president into office (Hassan Rouhani) over a hardliner. Iran is also slightly freer than Saudi Arabia according to Freedom House
Yes, Iran throws people in jail for dissenting against the government, but so doesn’t Saudi Arabia. From a practical standpoint, establishing a relationship with the Islamic Republic would make sense. Iran is a member of the ECO (Economic Cooperation Organization), a trading bloc of 10 countries with a population of approximately 463 million. If Trump wants to put America first, this could lay the groundwork for new markets and jobs for Americans. Mending fences with Iran might possibly signal the beginning of a relationship with benefits for the United States.