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Targeting Saudi Arabia is an Iranian Constant

Targeting Saudi Arabia is an Iranian Constant

Monday, 16 September, 2019 - 06:45
Ghassan Charbel
Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Targeting Saudi Arabia is a firm and constant option for the decision-makers in the current Iranian regime. It is a truth that has been confirmed by decades of developments. The targeting of Saudi Arabia is not a temporary or fleeting decision. It is a choice that is connected to the current regime in Tehran and its approach towards others, especially neighboring countries.

Throughout the decades, Saudi Arabia has tried to uncover any method to alter this approach. It has tried to capture any signal that can be interpreted as a sound or reasonable Iranian policy. It extended its hand when some spoke of Rafsanjani’s pragmatism. It did the same when some spoke of Mohammed Khatami’s flexibility. Riyadh never hesitated in extending its hand to Ahmadinejad. Time and time again, however, developments demonstrated that the core of the foreign policy was in the supreme leader’s hands, not the president.

Some even went so far as to claim that the fleeting pragmatism that presidents show on occasion are just a facade to conceal Iran’s true stance on Saudi Arabia, which is the supreme leader’s unyielding vision that he entrusts the Revolutionary Guards to implement.

Saudi Arabia, for its part, has handled with great responsibility the security attacks that have taken place on its soil or against its diplomats and interests abroad. It has sought to avert escalation and plunging into open conflicts that would aggravate tensions in an already tense region. Riyadh has always hoped that decision-makers in Tehran would realize that the delusions of grandeur are harmful to everyone, not just to others, and that the hostile rhetoric only fuels the fire and strains sectarian, political and security tensions.

Tehran has repeatedly tried to conceal its true hostile policy against Saudi Arabia by speaking about good neighborliness and the joint role in securing the Gulf and energy supplies. The developments on the ground, however, were quick indication that these claims are part of a media and diplomatic war.

There is a deep problem in relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The same problem exists between Iran and the majority of the countries in the region and world. In our present world, relations between nations are based on international law and mutual interests. The concept of the state must prevail over all else for this to be possible and cemented.

The problem is that Iran turns to the concept of the state when it falls in its interest. At its core, however, its policy is based on the revolution that refuses to be limited to its own borders and refuses to recognize the immunity granted by international law to the borders of others. This would not have been an issue had Iran built on its own land an attractive political or economic example that could be voluntarily replicated by others, instead of being promoted by the media and non-diplomatic means.

Instead, Iran attempted, under various pretexts, to infiltrate other countries in order to impose as much of its example as possible to make the targeted country part of its own circle of influence. These violations, which are committed beyond the norms of normal behavior between independent and sovereign nations, have transformed Iranian meddling into a policy of destabilization. We do not need to list the examples. The expansion of Iranian influence in this capital or that did not lead to stability or prosperity, but only to tensions, the hollowing out of nations and strained relations with the world.

Several countries, including Saudi Arabia, have really tried to build normal relations with Iran. They soon came to realize, however, that the Iranian state and its institutions are only a guise for the policy of the revolution that allows itself to infiltrate the borders of others and seek to alter balances of power. It is clear that Iran is acting as if it is a revolution that is afraid of turning into a state, because such a transformation would destroy its major coup agenda that is based on exporting the revolution.

Iran views Saudi Arabia as a major Gulf, Arab, Islamic and international obstacle in achieving this agenda given the Kingdom’s Islamic, Arab and international weight. Its economic and political weight is mirrored by its regional and international relations that are based on moderation, cooperation, dialogue and understandings. This was demonstrated in the many mediation roles it has played in several countries.

This is why harnessing Saudi Arabia has been a firm goal for the decision-makers in Iran. The current regime believes that weakening Saudi Arabia is a necessary obstacle to overcome in order to gain access to more capitals or at least take over their decision-making power. To this end, it has set up militias and roaming cross-border armies and equipped them with rockets and drones. One of the greatest irrefutable examples of this policy is the Houthi coup. Saudi Arabia realized early on that Iran was attempting to transform the Houthis into a permanent proxy for destabilization and the infiltration of borders, which is why it met the call of the legitimacy in Yemen.

It is clear that Saudi Arabia is being targeted because of its objection to the transformation of Arab maps into rocket and drone launchpads against Arab targets. Saudi Arabia is also being targeted due to what its future may bring given the major transformation it is witnessing.

Given the above, we can understand the attack against the Saudi Aramco oil facilities. It is a major and dangerous escalation that has Iran’s fingerprints regardless of its denials. This escalation reveals the extent of the tensions the Iranian regime is enduring due to the United States’ policy of “maximum pressure”. It is pouring more fuel on the regional fire in order to test the American administration and remind Washington that Tehran can threaten energy supplies and hold them as a new hostage in an open crisis.

The Arab and international reactions of support to Saudi Arabia were a response to this aggression and they underlined once again the size of the gap between the Iranian regime and the world. Iran is leaving no room for Saudi Arabia but to invest its Arab, Islamic and international weight in setting up more hurdles for the great Iranian coup. In this regard, Saudi Arabia has the will and the ability, as well as an arsenal of solid international relations based on its role to maintain the hope of stability and prosperity in the region alive.

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