Iran’s Relations With Saudi Arabia: An Inside Look – OpEd


By Mohammad Masjed-Jamei*

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have hit a deadlock and it seems that under present circumstances it is neither expedient, nor beneficial for Saudi rulers to adopt another policy other than the current policy of animosity toward Iran. Basically speaking, social and intellectual conditions in this country, in particular, and in the Arab world, in general, do not allow for such a change of policy. In addition, the country’s decision-makers, as part of the general society, think along the same lines as other parts of the society do. This can be deduced from their remarks.

At any rate, continuation of this situation is not in their favor, but it will take time before they understand this and in the meantime, any expression of willingness and probably insistence on Iran’s part will backfire, because Saudis will take it as a sign of our passivity and success of their own policy. However, the consequences of their current policies, especially with regard to their southern neighbor, will finally make them revise the current trend, even if on a small scale. Saudis and their allies started the war on Yemen to gain an absolute victory in a short period of time, but this did not happen in practice and it was clear from the beginning that this will not take place. Vanity over the power of their weapons and some sort of intellectual and analytical poverty were main factors behind this miscalculation.

Let’s not forget that Saudis’ current policy on Iran is part of their large-scale security, military, economic and developmental policy, whose goals they are planning to achieve in the next 15 years. This is a phenomenon special to the Third World that those in power sometimes design a big leap in their policies and the masses welcome that change either upon politicians’ instigation or in a self-motivated manner, but the enthusiasm ebbs after a while and hard realities come to the surface.

In such cases, it is only time, which can prove the erroneous nature of ideals that are beyond capacities of a country and no degree of explanation and advice or temptation or threat can do this. Therefore, we must be patient and let the time pass, though we must also be carefully on guard so that the opposite side would not exceed its limits.

Another important point is the need to make free thinking intellectuals talk free from narrow-minded tribal and regional frameworks in order to explain the reality to the public opinion. Of course, they will have little room to give voice to their viewpoints, but indirect support of governments in countries like Algeria, Egypt, and to some extent, Morocco, for these ideas can give their creators a bigger maneuvering room. On the other hand, active and frank dialogue with officials in those countries can be very effective. The interests of a country like Egypt are not very much harmonized with those of Saudi Arabia and basically speaking, Egyptians do not have the same problems as Saudis. Of course, under the existing critical conditions in Egypt, if its officials take sides with Saudi Arabia, there would certainly be common interests between the two sides, but those common interests are not full and complete.

Finally, Saudis and their allied sheikdoms must know that in the absence of Iran, Americans and even Israelis will adopt more commanding and forceful policies toward them. These points can be raised in the public opinion and if need be, Saudis and their allies can be indirectly and in private informed of these facts.

We must accept that the existence of the current Saudi government, despite all its downsides, is ultimately in our benefit and also beneficial to our allies and Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia. The only opposition group to the Saudi regime, which can potentially take over the power from the current rulers, is Takfiri Salafists and no other group can do this. Bin Laden, the slain leader of al-Qaeda, had once noted that this land – Saudi Arabia – can give birth to many people like Jahiman (who tried to take over the Grand Mosque of Mecca), who would rise in the future and this is a true proposition.

There is no doubt that the Saudi regime encourages and supports such groups and basically speaking, the Saudi ideology is the breeding ground for theoretical and political and ideological growth of Takfiri groups. However, when such Takfiri groups want to make a major move inside the country, the government stands against them. The important point is that the power in this country should never fall into the hands of such groups.

In the conflict-ridden world of politics, we must not think about total elimination of our rival, especially when that rival has deep roots in history and culture of its country. However, it must be taken advantage of to bring about the most desirable situation, which can meet our interests and expediencies, because this is quite possible and we are able to do it.

* Mohammad Masjed-Jamei
Iran’s Former Ambassador to Morocco

Translated By: Iran Review.Org — This is an excerpt of the original article which was published here

Iran Review

Iran Review is a Tehran-based site that is independent, non-governmental and non-partisan and representing scientific and professional approaches towards Iran’s political, economic, social, religious, and cultural affairs, its foreign policy, and regional and international issues within the framework of analysis and articles.

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