Saudi Arabia’s policies in the Middle East, in particular it’s month long siege of neighbouring Qatar is strengthening Iran, Foreign Policy said in an option piece yesterday.
The news site warned that the kingdom’s policies, which are backed by US President Donald Trump, are benefitting Iran because they are weakening Saudi Arabia’s position in the region.
“Regardless of what the United States does, sharply increasing the vitriol towards Iran while at the same time laying siege to fellow GCC member Qatar will likely weaken the Saudi position.”
While Saudi Arabia, through its security relationship with the United States, derives many advantages over Iran, much of Saudi Arabia’s political strength in the region comes from the kingdom’s strong position within the Arab world.
Proxy wars being fought between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Syria and Yemen are further weakening Riyadh’s position and risk leading the entire region into turmoil with Jordan and Lebanon on the brink of unrest, FP warned. This would lead to a “more splintered” Arab world and more Iranian “gains in the regional power game”.
Additionally, the kingdom’s designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation “recklessly delegitimises the middle ground within the Sunni ideological spectrum” and “creates and opening for more extreme organisations”.
On the other hand, Qatar’s policies create “pathways for dialogue and conflict resolution both inside and outside the Arab world”.
The Gulf rift is also forcing Qatar to “become more dependent” on Iran and Turkey thus distancing it from Saudi Arabia and the GCC, further splitting the region.
To save itself, Saudi should be working to “heal” the divisions within the Sunni groups, FP added, “diplomacy… is the only pathway of out the current regional morass.”