What Are Three Scenarios of Future Saudi-Iranian Relations?

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Articles
Tuesday, 08 November 2016


Saudi regime follows the West, the US in particular, in its foreign policy. Indeed, there are no decisions made or opinions adopted independently by the kingdom’s officials. Fueling tensions in West Asia (Middle East) and supporting terrorist groups in the Muslim countries, Riyadh has adopted a tension-making policy. Saudi Arabia makes the moves in the region as it gains areas of influence and transforms itself into a regional power.

Since 2001 and the beginning of Washington's direct presence in West Asia, Riyadh’s established policy has been to support its western ally’s measures. As the US gradually chose indirect rather direct presence in the region, Washington picked Riyadh as enforcer and center of its policies in West Asia. Forming coalitions with the kingdom and offering direct support for Riyadh amid regional crises all show that the West has massively planned to realize its interests and goals using Saudi Arabia.

After 2015 when Salman bin Abdulaziz ascended the throne, Saudi Arabia has adopted an aggressive policy towards regional issues, especially against Iran. After an attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran, Riyadh leaders cut off diplomatic ties unilaterally with Iran.

With a consideration of the current Saudi Arabian behavior and the future political developments, three scenarios can be expected for the Tehran-Riyadh relations:

1. Cooperation

For the following reasons, cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Iran looks unlikely:

- The Saudi rulers' behaviors show no sign of change in the essence of the present foreign policy.

- The deep differences between Tehran and Riyadh especially on regional issues are actually outcomes of essential and fundamental differences between the two countries.

- Riyadh is fully obedient to Washington in terms of foreign policy and is far from being independent in policy and decision making.

The US' main policy is to prevent unity between the Muslim countries and particularly the powerful states like Iran and Saudi Arabia. Russian Sputnik news agency in an analysis suggested that Saudi Arabia sought to forge tensions with Iran as it began to grow fears about the Iranian hegemony's domination over West Asia region. The Russian news agency added that considering the strategy of balance of threat to form an immediate anti-Tehran regional coalition has made Riyadh more than ever in need of creating crisis.

Moreover, commenting on the Riyadh-Tehran’s ties, the Foreign Policy Association, an American think tank, has reported that Iran and Saudi Arabia like France and Germany in Europe or Brazil and Argentina in southern America are born to be each other’s rivals, though this does not necessarily mean that they have to be each other’s enemies. The big problem that currently exists is that they are at opposite sides of an array of deadly regional conflicts including the struggles in Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Iraq, and Palestine, according to the American think tank. The regional conflicts fuel the hostility and distrust between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic, something that makes conditions worse. This is a flawed circle, suggests the Foreign Policy Association.

2. Increased tensions in the two countries' relations

This is a likely scenario. The ties between Riyadh and Tehran now are in the lowest and worst possible levels in comparison to a couple of years ago. This is majorly caused by the Saudi Arabian regional policies. The present day’s Tehran-Riyadh relations echo a cold war in the West Asia region that is mostly pushed ahead by Saudi Arabia. The kingdom presently backs the militant groups active on the Iranian borders as well as terrorist groups fighting against the branches of the pro-Tehran Axis of Resistance in the region. All these add to possible escalations between the two countries.

3. Continuation of the status quo

This is the most likely scenario. Saudi Arabia adopts a policy in the region that is in full conflict with the Islamic Republic of Iran's policies. Influenced by the current conditions and balance of power between the two sides, the state has given rise to a status of threats and tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

In general, growing into a regional power and gaining hegemony in West Asia, the kingdom seeks keeping the present conditions through forming alliances and forging enemies. According to the US-based Foreign Affairs magazine, Riyadh needs a large-scale crisis to maintain the current conditions.

Three events have pushed Saudi Arabia into such a situation: first, the Russian forces who are launching their military campaign in the region while there are no rival forces against them. Second, the rivals of Saudi Arabia across the West Asia are unprecedentedly becoming allies. For example, the Russians are siding with Iran in a series of regional stages. Third, for the first time in the history of the kingdom, Riyadh has become alone and unsupported by any superpower. The US is implicitly no longer a steadfast guarantor of the security of Saudi Arabia. Therefore, Riyadh has came to the conclusion that the only remaining way to press ahead with its policies in the region is to use Iranophobic propaganda and confronting Tehran.

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