The Myth of Iranian–Arab Enmity: A Deconstructive Approach

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Kourosh Ahmadi
05 September 2011

The paper aims to critically consider the proposition maintaining that the contemporary state of affairs between Iran and the Arab world results from an endemic, deep-rooted enmity between these two peoples with roots in the annals of history. To elucidate its argument, the paper offers a brief review of the major ups and downs in the historical relationship between Iranians and Arabs to see whether animosity or good-neighbourliness has mainly prevailed. Then, seeking to pinpoint the causes of uneasiness in the Iranian-Arab relationship since the 1950s, the focus of the paper turns to the formation of pan-Arab ideology and its strong anti-Iranian elements. Major differences in outlooks, coupled with territorial and diplomatic disagreements, had Nasserite Egypt and especially Ba’athist Iraq embrace these elements and begin implementing them to their full and extreme extent at a time when a monarchical West-leaning regime was in power in Iran. The paper concludes that the uneasiness in Iran-Arab relations during the past five to six decades has been situational and a modern phenomenon, chiefly stemming from specific political circumstances with certain roots in nation-building activities in the concerned countries. Hence, historical and ethno-religious or civilizational roots of this strained relationship are either non-existent or insignificant.