Does Saudi Arabia want to make a peace?

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 Iran, the United States and five other world powers have sealed a breakthrough framework agreement outlining limits on Iran’s nuclear program, despite attempts by Israel and Saudi Arabia to thwart the deal. Saudi Arabia, who is considering as a main opposite force to deal with Shiite Iran, believes that the deal must ensure stability in the region. Moreover, the deal means that Iran will be able to strengthen its presence in the region even more. Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen – the countries where Shiites gained a wide floor, is a direct threat to national security of Saudi Arabia, as well as for Gulf monarchies.

     İt was not a surprise for mass media when being “ignored” by its closest ally U.S Saudi Arabia withdrew its participation in Camp David meeting with other state members. Prior to meeting, official Riyadh held an extraordinary meeting with other monarchs of the region concerning the latest situation in Yemen, and nuclear deal with Iran. Aftermath, officially King Salman, and King Hamad refused to participate in Camp David meeting in U.S. [1]

     The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia issued an official statement that U.S – Saudi relations are still base on true friendship, and King Salman canceled his participation due to his health problems. 2 months earlier, Iran successfully has finished nuclear deal negotiations in Lausanne with P5+1. It made all Arab countries including Israel to be worry about main consequences of the deal, as Saudis do not believe that Iran is going to reduce nuclear centrifuges and enrichment of uranium very soon. The immediate Saudi reaction to the deal will likely include attempts to revive the dual structure of the regional order: Saudi versus Iran, which existed until the Arab uprisings in 2011.

     There are mixed reactions in the Gulf towards the Iranian nuclear deal. Some of states truly believe that it would be a turning point, while other states emphasize possible negative consequences. Any kind of deal between Iran and the US would likely not be favourable to the GCC states, particularly to Saudi Arabia. Saudis are concerned about certain conditions of the deal, which guarantees to Iran new economic perspectives after final goals of negotiations will be reach. Simultaneously, Iran did not accept the point regarding the international inspection of all nuclear bases. İran substantiates that it might be a good chance for foreign intelligence services to leak to closed military bases.

     Apparently, under the oppression of some EU members, undersecretary of U.S Ms. Wendy Sherman gave a statement while condemning of Saudi Arabia’s provocative actions towards Tehran. Ms. Sherman called all the Middle Eastern countries to avoid provocative policy until nuclear deal will enter to the final phase. [2]

    It was not a coincidence when one day later after nuclear negotiations – on 26th of March, Saudi led military coalition launched air strikes to Yemen. According to the Western experts, air strikes in Yemen is nothing more than a rivalry between Saudi and Iran over the regional influence. Besides that, if the agreement on nuclear power would be finished in favor of Tehran, Saudi Arabia will rise its military spending. Only in the end of 2014, Saudi Arabia’s military spending grew 17 percent to $80.8 billion. U.S President Barack Obama accused Saudis and Israel for non-collaboration in order to bring stability and peace to the region.

     That was the reason, which forced Ar-Riyadh to seek for a new partner in military field, and of course, it was not a coincidence again, when Saudi Arabia invited French President Francois Hollande, whose country is deemed to have a tough stance in Iran nuclear negotiations, to Riyadh to discuss regional issues with Gulf Arab leaders on 5th of May. Hollande met the new Saudi King for an hour after dinner at his personal palace. The two men specifically discussed Iran’s role in Yemen and Syria. At the end of official visit, two countries signed a new military agreement for 10 billion U.S dollars. [3]

     The Middle East became a good weapon market for big military industries in the West, while situation is very sensitive for all in Arabian Peninsula. 2 weeks ago, Iranian cargo plane attempted to land in Sanaa airport, but forced to withdraw, when Saudi air fighters attacked it. Fortunately, plane managed to back to Iran. Plane crush might be worsened the situation between Saudi and Iran even more. Despite this fact, FM Javad Zarif mentioned during his speech in New York University that, “we are willing to find a compromise with our neighbors and we are open for any dialogue, in terms of struggle between faiths might be crucial point in future of the region”.

     Barack Obama is not intended to justify his negotiations with Iran, on the contrary he wants to assure his closest allies through Camp David meeting – Arabs, that nuclear agreement with Iran may be advantageous for each of them.

Fuad SHAHBAZOV [Strategic Outlook]

[1] ABC News: “Along With Saudi King, Most Gulf Rulers to Skip US Summit”; URL: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/saudi-bahrain-kings-miss-gulf-nation-summit-us-30949614

[2] Albawaba News: “US official: Iran’s role in regional conflicts could jeopardize nuclear deal”; URL: http://www.albawaba.com/news/us-official-irans-role-regional-conflicts-could-jeopardize-nuclear-deal-688504

[3] RFİ english: “Saudi eager to sign tens of billions in deals with France, says French foreign minister”; URL: http://www.english.rfi.fr/economy/20150505-saudi-eager-sign-tens-billions-deals-france-says-french-foreign-minister