Oct 8, 2019, 8:26 PM
Journalist ID: 2382
News Code: 83508952
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Saudi Arabia; difficulties of de-escalation and Iranian initiative

Tehran, Oct 8, IRNA - Many indications and analyses indicate Saudi leaders' tendency to defuse tensions in the Middle East and resolve growing disputes with their neighbors, especially the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Many Arab media and analysts these days look to Saudi policies in the Middle East and wait for more stance and signs of a shift in Riyadh approaches.

Yesterday, a group of media quoted an Arab news website “Lebanon 24” as saying that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman intends to pursue a policy of "zero tension with neighbors" instead of pursuing fruitless and expensive confrontations in the region to the provided areas for focusing on economic development.

A few days ago, the New York Times wrote in analyses that the Saudis had decided to enter the process of resolving disputes with Tehran because of desperation for Donald Trump's support in the event of a war in the region, find a way-out from the confrontational situation, and avoid possible crises.

The American newspaper, of course, wrote that due to the depth of the differences between Tehran and Riyadh, it is not expected to hold a meeting at the level of leaders between the two sides in the near future. However, the Saudis' decision to take action to change the situation seems inevitable.

In the eyes of some regional experts, the inaction of the US against Iran's legitimate and defensive measures and the attack of Yemeni resistance forces on the Aramco facilities have been instrumental in the Saudis' move towards de-escalation.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince told the CBS News in an interview a week ago that the war with Iran is hurting the global economy and would prefer diplomacy in the face of Iran, not war.

In addition, leaders of countries such as Pakistan and Iraq have explicitly stated that Saudi Arabia has called on the governments of Islamabad and Baghdad to mediate between Riyadh and Tehran.

The Iranian officials reacted positively to the recent stances of the Saudi government officials. During the past week, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh were among the figures who commented on and welcomed the de-escalation and dialogue with Saudi Arabia.

Relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia have witnessed the most severe challenges in recent years, and the two countries since 2015 are now in a state of cut of diplomatic and economic ties.

After the Islamic Revolution and the Saudi Arabia's stances against the government in Tehran, Riyadh entered into direct conflict with the Islamic Republic of Iran for a decade, the main manifestation of which was full support for the Ba'athist regime and the invader of Iraq. In 1997 and after the killing of the Iranian Hajj pilgrims at the ritual of redemption of polytheists in the relations between the two parties were deteriorated.

In the eyes of some observers, the conditions of the two sides' relations were repeated in the mid-1980s and again in the mid-2000s. After a decade of indirect confrontation over Iran's peaceful nuclear activities and Saudi obstruction in the path of the JCPOA, as well as conflicting goals across the region from Syria to Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon, the outcome of 2015 Mina events, the execution of Saudi Shias and ultimately the attack of some outlaw groups on Saudi Mission in Tehran and Mashad heightened crisis in Tehran-Riyadh relations.

The costs of confronting a series of neighbors, not just Iran, are now turning the Saudis into thinking. The idea of ​​"zero tensions with neighbors" that bin Salman is seeking to implement is reminiscent of a plan former Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and former Prime Minister proposed a few years ago to pass through costly tensions of his country with neighbors like Syria and paves the way for Ankara's prosperity in the region.

This time the pursuit of this idea is more and more linked to the Syrian case with Yemen. Many say that Saudi Arabia must also pursue its ally’s path in the coalition against the Yemenis, the UAE, and ultimately pursue its aims in the southern neighbor through diplomacy rather than bombing and warmongering.

Regardless of Yemen's key role in resolving disputes with the Islamic Republic of Iran, opening the door of diplomacy and shuttle diplomacy between Tehran and Riyadh is undeniably important, as many say the end of the Yemeni crisis depends on the formation of these diplomatic relations and the formation of an effective dialogue between the two main actors in the Middle East.

The stances of Saudi leaders show that there are still serious obstacles. A few days ago, former Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir called the Islamic Republic's top officials' remarks about the Saudi request for talks with Iran endorsed by Baghdad and Islamabad leaders as inaccurate.

In addition, Saudi sources have stated that Iraq and Pakistan have offered mediation, not Saudi Arabia.

A few months ago, the US president claimed that the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran were willing to negotiate with his country but did not know the way. In spite of Trump's reversed position, such a claim is now held true for the Saudis.

However, the reality is that the Saudis in the current situation increasingly recognize the need to halt radical and ambitious policies in the region, and the costs of warmongering in Yemen, tension with Iran, entry into the diplomatic crisis with Qatar, confrontation with Turkey, continued conflict with the Syrian government and the challenging policies in Lebanon.

Two years ago, the Saudi crown spoke of bringing the proxy war into Iran, but now emphasizes the need for dialogue with Tehran.

Some analysts and foreign policy experts say the Islamic Republic of Iran can take the initiative in this context and attract Saudi leaders for greater engagement. It was during the presidency of the late Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani who played the role of forerunner in meeting with the leaders of Riyadh at the Summit of Islamic Countries in Pakistan and Senegal which had a transformative effect on the Saudi approach, and now Tehran has the dignity and position it can pave the way for Saudi move toward de-escalation and interaction easier.

By: Mohammad Musa Kazemi

Translated by: Hamed Shabazi

Edited by: Hamid Shamlou


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