Strategic Importance of Rapprochement between Iran & Saudi Arabia

2021/10/06 | Note, political, top news

Strategic Council Online- Opinion: Iran and Saudi Arabia have experienced tossing relations within the past few decades, which ultimately led to severance of relations in 2016 and heightening tensions in their relations. Hamid Khoshayand, Analyst, International Affairs

Although relations between the two countries have been convulsive within the past 5 years but during the past few months and after the commencement of direct talks in Baghdad, initiated by Iraqi government, they have entered into a new détente phase.

An over-view of the developments of the past few years and current implications clearly show that Saudi court has played a principal and effective role in fanning crisis of bilateral relations. This is the case while the Islamic Republic of Iran has always expressed her readiness to sort out existing tensions.

Even martyr Soleimani made efforts to improve the relations between the two countries before his martyrdom during the last months of his life. Saudi Arabia was the main agenda of the last foreign trip of martyr Soleimani to Iraq aimed at sorting out disputes between the two countries, which was suspended with the assassination of the honorable Soleimani who was martyred by the U.S.

A high wall of distrust and hostility that cast its shadow within the past years due to different political, security and diplomatic reasons has provided ample grounds and opportunities for some external players such as the Zionist regime and the U.S. to proceed with their political, economic, security and military benefits.

Signing of several hundred billions of dollar worth contracts of weapons purchase from the U.S., militarization of Riyadh foreign policy, weakening of Saudi Arabia’s national security, spread of terrorism and extremism in the region, continuation of Yemen war, widening of religious-ethnical and inter-faiths-political gaps at regional level and in the world of Islam and intensification of regional competitions are all among important consequences that have emanated and emerged within the past few years followed by intensification of tensions in relations between Tehran and Riyadh; they all have happened to entangle Saudi Arabia more than any other country with various difficulties and problems.

Today, the Zionist regime and the U.S. are two main winners of convulsive relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Effective factors to the new attitude adopted by Saudi Arabia are as follows:

  1. International level

At international level, what caused Riyadh to negotiate and compromise with Iran are the changes taking place inside the U.S. and at international level. Taking office by Biden who, unlike Trump, has not willingness to put his full weight behind Saudi Arabia from one side, and change of power pole in international system which is being transferred from the West to the East from the other side have made Saudis to conclude that in regional competitions with Iran, they can’t count on the U.S. and Western countries’ support like in the past.

Today, the main concentration and the limelight of the U.S. foreign policy, as well as defense and security affairs have been inclined from the West Asia to China; recent developments of Afghanistan and the flee of Ashraf Ghani and his government is a useful experience for Saudis that the U.S. can’t be trusted.

  1. Regional level

At regional level, Yemen is considered to be an important factor for the necessity of rapprochement of relations between Tehran and Riyadh. It is crystal clear that Saudi Arabia has completely lost the war in Yemen. The war did not only realize the determined objectives of Saudi Arabia in the country but made them face with different security, political, military and of course, economic problems.

Yemen war has reduced the foreign currency reserves of Saudi Arabia from $750 billion to $ 450 billion! A country where not even a bullet was shot against within the past 100 years, now its capital and every other inch of the country has become the target of barrage of missiles and drone units of Ansarullah because of miscalculation and insist on her convulsive measures!

  1. Internal level

The country has different plans for her development and transition from an oil-based economy to non-oil based and to become the economic pole of the region, the advancement and realization of which require foreign investment. Economic outlook 2030, NEOM Mega-project, or smart city of $ 500 billion, and other economic programs in a situation where the country is within the reach of missiles of Ansarullah, and suffers from an unhealthy foreign policy can not realize even at very low levels either.

Rapprochement of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia has strategic importance, a few examples of which are as follows:

  • Removal of costs caused from bilateral disputes
  • Possibility of the settlement of major part of existing challenges at regional level (Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, etc.)
  • Boosting security and stability levels of the Western Asia and the World of Islam
  • Reducing the lobbies’ pressure of Saudi Arabia in the U.S. against Iran on the region’s missiles and nuclear issues
  • Facilitating the transition process of Saudi Arabia from an oil-based to non-oil based economy

Although the progress of Tehran-Riyadh peace talks is time taking and face a difficult way ahead, yet it depends on the willingness and preparedness of Saudi Arabia to adopt principled attitudes as well as independent and realistic behaviors more than anything else.

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