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Time To Mend Saudi-Iranian Relationships – OpEd

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Young Muslims often ask their seniors the reasons behind Saudi-Iranian animosity. The seniors very conveniently let the youngster to refer to internet, because they themselves have been brain washed by the dishonest western media. One of the outcomes of this constant brain washing is the perception drilled into the minds of Arabs, “Iran is a bigger threat than Israel”.

Let one begin analysis from the recent history spread over nearly half a century. Immediately after Islamic Revolution in Iran, Arab monarchs were made to believe that Iran is their number one enemy, which wants to dethrone them.

The United States emerged as the biggest enemy of Iran, as it failed to contain Islamic Revolution in Iran and also faced a few humiliating defeats. Having faced some worst defeats the United States, which was solely dependent on Arab oil prompted Iraq to attach Iran. In this war, spread over nearly a decade, Saudi-Iraqi petrodollars were used but all in vain, which also initiated an era of economic sanctions on Iran. Iranians must have lost hundreds and thousands of soldiers and civilian in that war, but economic sanctions gave them the courage to keep their economy afloat as well as face all sorts of external aggressions, but they lost their substantial share in global oil trade.

The next target was Iraq, which proved an easy prey. Not only many of strategic oil installations were destroyed, the attempts to fragment it, left it too feeble. Over the years Israel has emerged the biggest buyer of stolen Iraqi oil. Now the target is Saudi Arabia. Since most of the Saudi oil is produced from fields located in area having Shia population, Sunni-Shia rivalry is being fueled. This has started decades ago, after Hibzullah came to rescue Muslims living in Lebanon. The second phase of this proxy was fought in Syria and third phase is going on in Yemen and Bahrain, all the three countries having Shia population.

Anyone who does not accept this theory must scan the newspapers filled with accusations that Iranian and Houthis have attacked the tankers; dishonest western media is playing a key role in spreading disinformation. This is helping United States to sell billions of dollars arms to Saudi Arabia; United States has also previously sold huge arms by promoting ‘Iranian Phantom’. Now most of the Arabs believe Iran is a bigger threat as compared to Israel.

Having fallen prey of western propaganda machine, Saudis are fighting US proxy war with Iran. Over the years they have been made to believe that keeping Iran out of oil trade, is bringing huge petro dollars to Saudi Arabia, which have enjoyed the status of ‘largest oil producing country’. However, most of the Saudi petro dollars are going back to United States, being the payment for the purchase of arms. Despite having tons of arms, Donald Trump says, “Saudis can’t survive if we take our hands off”. It is on record that soon after attacks on oil tankers; United States posted its soldiers in Saudi Arabia for the safety of Royal family.

This raises a question; does Saudi Arabia pay to the United States to defend its territory? Even a person with ordinary wit knows ‘nothing comes free’. Despite buying billions of dollars arms every year, Saudi Arab has been neither successful in building its own army, navy and air force nor missile batteries that can help in combating Iran. Therefore, the monarchy is forced to depend on United States, which still consider its biggest enemy it savior. It must revisit history and see fate of Shah of Iran, Envar Sadat of Egypt and Saddam Hussain of Iraq, to mention a few names.

It is an opportune moment for both Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore friendly relation, bid farewell to proxy wars and identify their real enemies. Hike in crude oil price has benefited United States, which has attained the status of biggest oil country. However, it goes without saying that many of US oil companies can go broke if oil prices fall below US$50/barrel. It is the time to save oil produced by Muslim countries, which its enemies are buying at huge discount.

Saudi Arab must pay attention to the offer made by Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a member of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of Iran. He has suggested that Arab countries in the Persian Gulf region must try to deescalate tension in the region, a move which Iran welcomes.

“We should move towards de-escalation. Tension is a reality in Iran’s foreign policy. Iran has many enemies that naturally cause tension. This situation should be managed. This is the opposite of Trump’s policy of increasing tension,” he told ISNA in an interview.

He noted, “Certain countries have adopted a different stance which shows a kind of green light to deescalate tension in the region. These countries have reached the conclusion that insecurity in the region harms them.”

Earlier, Abdullah al-Muallemi, the Saudi envoy to the United Nations, had said that Saudi Arabia seeks “diplomatic interactions” with Iran. “Saudi Arabia does not want war with Iran, neither in Yemen and nor anywhere else,” the Mehr news agency quoted him as saying.

Mohammad Javad Jamali Nobandegani, the deputy chairman of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, has said that Saudi Arabia can be a “strategic partner” of Iran if it abandons following the United States.

“If Saudi Arabia abandons animosity and stops blindly obeying America it can have a good strategic partner like the Islamic Republic, which will be to the benefit of all regional countries and Muslims, ”Jamali Nobandegani told ISNA.

He added that Iran has always “extended hands of friendship to its neighbors”, citing Qatar as an example in which Iran opened its arms to the country when it was surrounded from land, sea and air by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“Iran has always announced that it has no fundamental problem with its neighbors and extends hands of friendship to them. As a powerful country in the Persian Gulf region, we are ready to be a safe harbor for our neighbors,” he noted.

Iran also had good relationship with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. However, Saudi Arabia and the UAE changed their policy toward Iran as Tehran seriously entered nuclear negotiations with the 5+1 countries – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – to end more than a decade of nuclear standoff with the West.

Saudi Arabia was so unhappy with the negotiations that it even sent its then foreign minister Saudi al-Faisal to Vienna, the venue of the talks, in November 2014 to undermine the process of nuclear negotiations. Donald Trump has misused the frosty relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia to sell more arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif has rightly proposed non-aggression pact with regional Arab states to invalidate claims by the Trump administration that Iran is a threat to its southern Arab neighbors.



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Shabbir H. Kazmi

Shabbir H. Kazmi

Shabbir H. Kazmi is an economic analyst from Pakistan. He has been writing for local and foreign publications for about quarter of a century. He maintains the blog ‘Geo Politics in South Asia and MENA’. He can be contacted at [email protected]

2 thoughts on “Time To Mend Saudi-Iranian Relationships – OpEd

  • Avatar
    August 10, 2019 at 7:17 am
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    The writer ignores the animosity between Shiia and Sunnis and wrongfully blames the West as usual. Most Arab leaders have used Israel as a scapegoat to hide their own incompetence and corruption. Dictators usually need an enemy. Khamenei can not utter a full sentence without the use of the word “enemy” often referring to the US and Israel for the past 40 years. Arab leaders are afraid of Iran’s mullahs and for a very good reason. Iran’s interference in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen is a clear indication that they may be next. On the other hand, favorable sentiment towards Israel is openly shared by Iraqi’s and Kuwaiti’s that consider Iran more of a threat than Israel and for very good reasons.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      August 11, 2019 at 12:56 pm
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      You are right about dictators needing enemies; that also applies to the rulers of Sunni-Arab states who are hiding behind these religious differences – pitting their nations against Shiai Iran on behalf of the US and Israel.

      The religious divergence between doctrine of Shiai versus Sunni is almost as old as Islam itself; yet, believers on both sides had worked out their differences over centuries, they have been living alongside each other in relative peace and harmony, these communities have been mixing, marrying into each other for centuries; yet, since the early 1980’s the propaganda broadcasting machines from Washington, London, Paris, and Tel Aviv, have been trying to bring these religious differences to the fore, as if those were the root cause of the Middle East problems, and of course this is a big lie and propaganda for political exploitation of Arab nations.

      Look, what have resulted from recent Saudi-Israel alliance against Iranians- over the last 18 months; Israel has blatantly annexed the Golan Heights and Jerusalem, and made it its official Capital – Jerusalem which is a multi-faiths cosmopolitan – is still officially a UN Administrated Territory since 1948 – Jerusalem is a bastion of the islamic-Arab identity, it’s under the Zionist rule today. I don’t know how the rulers of Arab nations feel about that but it certainly doesn’t feel right.

      The reality is that all these religious posturings are politically motivated by the US-Israel and their Western allies who have a lot to gain on both sides of the Shiai-Sunni divide.

      Reply

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