Riyadh Will Have to Change Its Strategy
Saudi Arabia’s policy, after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran until the beginning of the conflicts in Syria, has always been to indirectly provoke different parties in the region and also the big world powers against Iran. The measures taken by this country were concentrated on propaganda activities on religious issues and the spread of the Wahhabi ideology against the ahl-ul-beit ideology through the publication of books and speeches in different media. Saudi Arabia has never acted directly against Iran. But following the beginning of the Syrian crisis, and also after the signing of the agreement between Iran and the P5+1 member countries, Saudi Arabia left its old policies and directly stood against Iran. Even the officials of this country have taken open positions against the Islamic Republic of Iran and entered into disputes in different areas. With regard to Yemen, they have openly stated that their position against the Houthis is due to their support of Iran. Also in Lebanon, they have said that they have taken positions against Hezbollah because of Iran’s support of this group. Regarding Syria, Iraq, and even Bahrain, Saudi Arabia has pursued the same policy and stated that they will not allow Iran to rule in these countries. The cutting off of Morocco and Jordan’s relations with Iran was caused by Saudi pressure. They have even removed their support for the Resistance because this group is supported by Iran. Saudi Arabia has moved towards compromise and common development with the Zionists against Iran. Its criticisms and stances against the US and even its rejection of Security Council membership and its presidency, which is held by one of the non-permanent members of this council, were due to the Saudis’ anger after the Geneva Agreement.
Until before the Syrian crisis and the Geneva Agreement, the issue of the Three Islands was only limited to the statements made by the Arab League but at the present time they openly state that Iran controls all of the Arab region and that this must be confronted. Saudi Arabia has even stated that it has no problem with Israel and does not consider it a threat against itself and other Arab states. But it believes that Iran has entered a phase which is dangerous for the interests of the Arab states. Thus, it has revealed its cooperation with al-Qaeda. On the other hand, the US and the international organizations have been silent regarding this issue and have closed their eyes on Saudi Arabia’s cooperation with al-Qaeda. Bandar bin Sultan considers al-Qaeda as the winning card for Arab interests. I believe that Saudi Arabia has put aside diplomatic ethics. Saudi Arabia feels threatened by the developments in the region. Right now the nations of the region have been awakened and they do not like the old rhetoric of their governments. The officials of these countries have also understood that the world does not accept these conditions. At the same time they consider the agreements which have been reached between Iran and other countries and the new approach of the big powers towards Iran as a fatal shot to their rulers.
When King Abdullah became ill, certain individuals came to power who pursued a different foreign policy than that of the king. There are two groups - the radicals and the moderates - in Saudi Arabia. The radical group is not interested in solving the issues through political means. The reason behind this group’s support of terrorism is the measures which are taken by the Takfiris against the interests of Iran and the Resistance. The Takfiris have also attempted to kill the Shiites, the Sunnis and the Christians to the benefit of the Zionist regime and the Arab reactionaries and they do not care about regional arrogance. This group is supported by some important people in Saudi Arabia including Bandar bin Sultan, Saud al-Faisal and Turki al-Faisal. Due to the fact that the Saudi Foreign Ministry is independent and receives shares of the oil sales, it has numerous possibilities to support these terrorist groups.
But it seems that the circumstances are changing. On one hand, Bandar bin-Sultan is absent now and Saud al-Faisal holds a different position. Radical groups are now under the control of King Abdullah and his sons. On the other hand, the US pursues another line and attempts to divide the tasks through inviting Muhammad bin Nayef, the Saudi Interior Minister. I believe that the US is attempting to install a new administration in Saudi Arabia so that the new conditions in the region could respond to the regional developments. The Islamic Republic of Iran has been able to disarm the western countries especially the US with regard to the existing radicalism in the region via its diplomatic team. The US is faced with two options; to have an all-out understanding with Iran or accept a big political defeat. On the other hand, the Syrian army has been able to take back control of sensitive regions of this country from the terrorists. In addition, Hezbollah has succeeded in forming a government. This is while the March 14th alliance has made efforts during the past ten months to prevent Hezbollah’s presence in the cabinet but to no avail and has ultimately accepted Hezbollah’s presence in the government. These are all the result of failures in Saudi Arabia’s policies. That is why Saudi Arabia is entering a new phase; that of interaction with the powerful countries of the region, i.e. Iran and Turkey. At the same time, it will review its policies with regard to Iraq. I assume that people like al-Tuwaijri in the King’s office, Prince Mutaib, and also Mohammad bin Nayef, the Interior Minister, will take measures to enter into a new phase of interaction with the region.
Meanwhile, Qatar’s approach has also changed. The presence of Qatar’s Foreign Minister in Tehran proves this point. The Qataris have comprehended the situation more rapidly than the Saudis. Exactly when the situation in Syria changed direction and the conditions were not to the benefit of their policies, they changed their policies with regard to Syria. Following the changes in Syria, the government of Qatar dismissed its prime minister who pursued confrontation with Syria within 24 hours and also the head of its Joint Chiefs of Staff because of his military aid to the rebels inside Syria. On the other hand, the simultaneous visits made by the Qatari Foreign Minister and Iraq’s Foreign Minister to Iran indicated the formation of a new axis in the region. This shows that both Qatar and Iraq have sought refuge in Iran. Iran was able to coordinate these two countries and it might be able to bring Turkey and Lebanon along as well in order to resolve the Syrian issue. That is why Saudi Arabia will have to establish special relations with Iran.
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