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The King & I’ran
Reasons behind Iran-Saudi rivalry

Iran is neither an enemy of Saudi Arabia, nor a friend. But with the recent Sunday Times July expose` on Saudi Arabia (where they mention a Saudi diplomat quoting how Saudi Arabia has given tacit approval to Israel for using its airspace to attack Iran – a claim refuted now by both Saudi and Israeli governments), not only has Saudi Arabia shot itself in the foot, but it has also given Iranian President Ahmedinejad the political lifeline he has long awaited. But really, wasn’t Saudi Arabia supposed to be a pro-Islam, ergo pro-Iran nation? Actually, not at all!

First, the legacy of the past. A so-called Saudi Arabian-Iranian friendship had continued for some years before coming to an end with the Iranian revolution in 1979 as the revolutionary regime of Iran declared the Saudi monarchy as anti-Islamic! Iran targeted Saudi Arabia and accused it of being an American proxy while Saudi in turn blamed Iran for attempting to destabilise it by infiltrating revolutionary mindsets. Relations worsened during the Iran-Iraq war in 1980 as Saudi Arabia sided with Iraq in the war.

Though there was improvement in their relationship later on (one: as the oil price fell down to $10 in 1986, both economies suffered, and misery loves...; two: common enemy Iraq invaded Kuwait, and then the Persian Gulf War took place in 1991), civilities remained generally ambiguous because of many reasons. Firstly, the sectarian conflict between Shias and Sunnis added to the irritant factor between the two nations as Iran remains Shia dominated and Saudi Arabia Sunni dominated (an encouraging fact for Obama’s advisors). Secondly, Iran, as the second largest oil producer in OPEC, regularly and deliberately produces more oil than allowed in its OPEC quota, leading to worsening competition with the world’s largest oil producer, namely Saudi Arabia. Thirdly, and ironically, Saudi Arabia is non-democratic and clearly pro-America; Iran is democratic and clearly anti-America. How can Saudi Arabia rectify this situation from here on? Uh, why would they want to?!

By:- Akram Hoque

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