1201 GMT February 24, 2020
The rivalry has climaxed in recent years over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Yemen, and Egypt. The Arab kingdom has recently increased its crude production leading to a drop in prices and is using oil as a means to deal a blow to its rival — namely Iran. This has created economic problems for Tehran. It is no surprise that such rivalries have ideological roots and are directly related to the systems of government in these two countries. Iran has an Islamic republic system while Saudi Arabia is a monarchy. Due to this, Iran supports Islamic Awakening in the region but the oil-rich kingdom sees it as a threat and seeks to confront them.
Saudi Arabia backs ISIL and other Takfiri groups operating in Syria and Iraq but Iran fights them and has spared no effort to defend the Syrian and Iraqi governments against them. In the course of this fierce rivalry, Iran has the upper hand in Syria, Iraq and Yemen while Saudi Arabia managed to block popular uprising in Bahrain and Egypt.
Riyadh's attempt to help quell pro-democracy movements in regional and Arab countries is quite understandable since they pose a grave threat to the rule of Al Saud. But the Arab kingdom should know that ISIL could jeopardize the system of government in Saudi Arabia and any other country that has a despotic system.
ISIL's propaganda in countries with democratic systems can hardly brainwash the people but in countries ruled by tribes and dynasties, ISIL's pseudo-Islamic slogans can motivate people to rise up against dictators.
Saudi Arabia and other non-democratic states in the region have no way but to open up the way for their people to play a more significant role in the future of their countries. This would help replace political and economic rivalry with Iran through constructive cooperation in all domains. If this happens, the Islamic Awakening, or the 'Arab Spring', would not be seen as a threat. And Saudi Arabia would not have to coordinate its policies with the West. It would act responsibly on the issue of Palestine, stop selling out is oil, have more cordial relations with regional countries, and end the wastage of its petrodollars by financing terrorist groups.
The Islamic Republic would establish better ties with Saudi Arabia under such conditions. Cooperation between the two states would bring security and stability to the entire Middle East. King Abdullah's health is rumored to be deteriorating by the day and reports suggest there is a power struggle among Saudi princes. Mulling over a new system of government might be the way out for the Saudis.