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Saudi Arabia: We Want Peace with Iran

May 16, 2014


    Middle Eastern Crisis

    Saudi Arabia: We Want Peace with Iran – It’s finally Friday and much of this week’s news should be filed under the “Wow, I didn’t see that one coming” file.

    A bearded lady wins the Eurovision contest…

    An NFL player celebrates his draft into the big leagues by smooching another guy…

    And, now, news that the Saudis are publicly announcing their intentions to normalize relations with Iran…

    It’s true. This week, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal made an overture to his Iranian counterpart and later stated:

    “I hope that Iran contributes to stability in the region… Iran is a neighbor country and we have relations with it. We talk to them and hope to end any differences between the two countries.”

    That’s quite a shift in tone from when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia told the French Defense Minister back in the summer of 2010 that: “There are two countries in the world that do not deserve to exist: Iran and Israel.”

    Saudi Arabia’s hatred of Iran is mutual. Iranian Supreme Ayatollah Khomeini said that members of the Saudi royalty were “a band of heretics” as well as “vile and ungodly Wahhabis… like daggers which have always pierced the heart of the Muslims from the back.”

    More recently, Saudi Arabia and Iran publicly funded opposite sides of the tragic war in Syria.

    Suffice it to say, Saudi Arabia and Iran are not close friends.

    So, the fact that Saudi Arabia is reaching out to Iran is interesting. (I’ll save my comments on why this move may not be that unexpected for a later briefing. But just read this for a hint…)

    So far, Iran’s response to Saudi Arabia’s overture has been cordial and encouraging.

    Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Amir Abdollahian, stated:

    “Iran welcomes dialogue and meeting to help resolve regional disputes, remove misunderstandings and further promote bilateral ties.”

    Another public response came from Iranian government spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nowbakht:

    “Saudi Arabia is a neighbor. Strengthening ties and good neighborly relations with it is to the interests of the region… The will of the government is that relations with Saudi Arabia be promoted to meet the interests of the two countries.”

    These two Gulf superpowers are, at the same time, both very different and very similar.

    The differences are sharp and distinct: The House of Saud is ruled by an iron Sunni fist while enjoying the many benefits of acceptance by the West. Meanwhile, Iran is ruled by the Shi’ite branch of Islam and has long been isolated from the West.

    Their similarities, however, are striking. They both run theocratic governments that suppress equality for women and minorities. They both breed state-sponsored acts of global terrorism and they both want nuclear weapons.

    Oh, I forgot one important difference: Saudi Arabia opened its oil markets to the West. Iran did not. Thus, the Saudi king receives a royal welcome at the White House while Iran is punished with sanctions and threatened with war. (There are few things in this world that money cannot solve.)

    Regardless, this week may have marked an interesting turning point in Saudi-Iran relations.

    Until Monday,
    Jerry Robinson



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