Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Double Saudi whammy: 'Assad prevails & Iran is gradually 'rehabilitated as a major player''

"... The Saudi leadership’s bewilderment over the changes that have swept the Arab world over the last three years has focused its foreign policy on two main objectives. First is sabotaging any glimpse of a democratic transition that might lead to the rise of new, unpredictable forces in Arab countries and consequently undermine its own grip on power domestically. From the Saudi perspective, any political change threatens to undermine a familiar status quo characterized by political stagnation and repression, defined by the Saudis as stability....... this policy seems to be dependent on authoritarian and repressive regimes remaining in power and willing to play the Saudi's game of loyalty in return for oil rent. The Arab uprisings threatened to destroy this formula, leading the Saudis to fight several battles in different places at the same time. From Bahrain to Yemen and Egypt, loyalty for oil must be reinforced because it is the only way the Saudis can remain relevant at the regional level.
The second objective is removing regimes that have distanced themselves from the Saudi sphere of influence and revolve in the competing Iranian sphere, as is the case with the Syrian regime. Only a military strike that promises to remove the current Syrian government will satisfy the Saudis and the Syrian opposition forces that have emerged under its patronage. Therefore, the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons, albeit a welcome step toward weakening the regime and enhancing the chances of its rivals, falls short of meeting Riyadh's urgent requirements.
What makes things more complicated and challenging from the Saudi perspective is the recent gradual rehabilitation of Iran as a major player that the international community seems to be willing to accommodate following the 2013 presidential election that brought to power Hassan Rouhani, someone believed to be willing to moderate Iranian foreign policy. Saudi influence will receive a great blow if the United States and Iran reach an agreement on the Syrian crisis.... "

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