During the four years of Donald Trump’s presidency, relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia have experienced one of the tensest periods in relations between the two countries since the victory of the Islamic Revolution. During his four years in the White House, Trump was highly effective in intensifying anti-Iranian policies of King Salman and his son Mohammad bin Salman by supporting such policies. In this regard, King Salman of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has recently emphasized dangers of Iran’s regional plan, its intervention in other countries, its support for the so-called terrorism and fanning the flames of sectarianism and called on the international community to take a firm stance against Iran to ensure the serious investigation into its efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction and advance in its ballistic missile program.
Davood Ahmadzadeh, an expert on the Middle East affairs, in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, commented on the hostile stance of Riyadh against Tehran and said: In recent years, Saudi Arabia has focused its policies on increasing its power and, in fact, regional influence, and has pursued this policy in various ways. One of the key policies of King Salman and his successor Mohammad bin Salman, has been the formation of a regional coalition in foreign policy. In this regard, transformation of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council into a group under its command, as well as efforts to strengthen the front known as the Arab Moderate Axis against the Axis of Resistance, have been among those efforts. The issue of clearly supporting the Takfiri forces in Syria to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s government that is among Iran’s close allies in the region has also been among Saudi Arabia’s specific policies and strategies over the past few years.
Ahmadzadeh stressed that stability of Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria, strengthening of the Axis of Resistance with the entry of Yemeni Houthi forces into this strategic area and the greater convergence of Shiite forces in the region, especially in Iraq, has shifted the balance in favour of the Axis of Resistance and Iran. Also, the progress of Iran’s negotiations with the 5+1 group under BARJAM (The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the temporary opening of Tehran’s relations with European countries and the process of relations with the United States during Barack Obama’s presidency caused Saudi Arabia, while feeling concern and threats from the Islamic Republic, pursue the issue of Iranophobia seriously at the regional level.
Referring to the proximity of Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, to the Zionist regime, the expert said: This proximity is pursued with an aim of harming Iran’s national interests at the regional level, and therefore we witnessed the formation of an ominous triangle among Israel, US and Saudi Arabia during Donald Trump’s presidency with an aim of changing the geopolitical environment of the Middle East and weakening non-aligned countries such as Iran, Iraq and Lebanon in the region.
The expert on the Middle East affairs, referring to the victory of Joe Biden in the US elections and the outlook of Riyadh-Washington relations with the entry of Biden into the White House, said: After the US election campaign and the victory of Joe Biden in the presidential elections, this scenario is raised that strategic relations of the US and Saudi Arabia will be transformed in some areas, and some of the differences that go back to not far away past will be raised once again. Those disputes will focus more on human rights issues; in fact pursuit of human rights cases by the Democrats, especially former Obama Vice-President and the new president Joe Biden, is like an old wound that can disclose past challenges in the relations between the two countries.
Explaining the situation, Ahmadzadeh continued: Therefore, now acknowledging some possible changes in the region after the new US administration comes to power, King Salman is once again trying to bring up Saudi Arabia as a close ally of the US in the region and the Western world as a whole.
According to the expert, pursuing such policies may prevent attacks by some human rights organizations in the West, especially the Democratic Party in the United States, in discussing the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and his case. Hence, we are witnessing the repetition of false accusations by Saudi officials against Iran under the pretext of Iran’s support for the so-called terrorism, the insecurity created thereby, and its nuclear case.
Finally, commenting on the future of Riyadh-Washington relations in the light of the country’s relations with Iran during the Biden’s presidency and also the possibility of the resumption of talks between the two countries within 5+1, the expert said: The first point that Joe Biden raised about Iran is the possibility of the US returning to BARJAM; this return will be an important step in reducing regional tensions. On the other hand, the opening of talks between Tehran and Washington within 5+1 could restore stability and security to some extent in the tense Middle East region which, in view of Saudi Arabia which sees Iran as a traditional rival and fears losing its strategic position, can have negative and bad consequences.
He noted: As a result, Riyadh, being concerned about the weakening of its strategic relations with the US in Biden’s presidency, is attempting to continue to portray Iran as an unstabilazer element and a threat to the security in the region by offering free concessions to the West, especially the US, by selling oil and consequently, large-scale military purchase in order to ensure the preservation of strategic relations of Riyadh with Washington.