Tuesday, May 13, 2014

'The emerging regional landscape has pushed Riyadh to set foot on the diplomatic path in regard to Iran'

There are a number of reasons the Saudis would be willing to now formally engage with the Iranians. First, it is clear to Riyadh that the nuclear deal is likely to progress (even if slowly) and that Iran's comeback on the world stage is inevitable, and it is not in Riyadh's best interests to ignore it. Second, the Saudis believe that the Rouhani government is operating more or less in sync with the clerical establishment led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and resistance from within the security establishment, in particular the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is in check. Third, there has been an unexpected convergence of interests between the two countries when it comes to Syria.
Saudi Arabia recently began a major campaign to counter transnational jihadist forces in Syria, such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and Jabhat al-Nusra, and instead cultivate relatively moderate Salafist-jihadist forces. Although the Iranians are still wary of the Syrian Sunni rebels in general, Tehran sees this as a welcome step given the threat posed by transnational jihadist groups to Iranian regional interests. As far as the Saudis are concerned, their efforts toward regime change in Damascus have stalled, not only because of rogue jihadist fighters but also due to disinterest from the United States (and the West in general) for toppling the Syrian President Bashar al Assad's regime.
The Saudis have been fighting on too many fronts simultaneously, which was unsustainable from their perspective. Consequently, the emerging regional landscape has pushed Riyadh to set foot on the diplomatic path in regard to Iran. This path however, does not lead to any rapprochement; rather, it will just bring down the tensions to manageable levels for the foreseeable future. For different reasons, neither side has an incentive to engage in any substantive negotiations and will not do so for quite some time...."

No comments: