0138 GMT November 22, 2019
These questions are important because the foreign policy of Saudi Arabia is interwoven with the region’s security and Iran’s interests in different fields.
The general outlines of the kingdom’s foreign policy are based on fixed structures. Intellectuals have a big influence on important political dossiers.
Policies related to Syria, Yemen, Palestine and Iran’s nuclear program are dictated by these intellectuals under the direct command of King Abdullah.
King Abdullah belonged to the influential Sudairi family that believed in establishing regional stability and having relations with important regional countries like Iran.
During the tenure of King Abdullah, important issues between Riyadh and Tehran such as Hajj and security arrangements were settled.
We should remember that maintaining cordial relations with Iran is the priority of Sudairis who favor détente in foreign policy.
In fact, radical measures taken by Saudi Arabia in the realm of foreign policy, especially those concerning Iraq and Syria, were because of the dominance of rivals of Sudairis during the illness of King Abdullah.
During this period, several revolutions took place in Arab states and radical tendencies also intensified in Saudi Arabia.
It seems that King Salman will pursue King Abdullah’s policy. As the policies of Riyadh regarding terrorist groups face an impasse, Saudi officials are expected to review their policies toward these groups and ties with important regional countries such as Iran and Iraq.
In addition, the children of King Abdullah, who hold power in the new structure and continue to follow the policies of their father, can play an important role in this regard.
However, the issue of Iran-Saudi Arabia relations is not just a bilateral issue, as many regional and trans-regional players also play an influential role. Their influence should be reduced to the minimum level.
Indeed, Tehran and Riyadh can gradually reach understanding on the basis of their common interests over a mid-term period.
Fighting extremism, terrorism and anti-Islam currents, and even controlling the oil price plunge, which threaten both states, could be discussed for the improvement of bilateral ties.
At this sensitive juncture where the new Saudi king is consolidating his grip on power, Iran’s official policy toward Riyadh should be announced clearly to scuttle any attempts by parties opposed to détente and interactions with Saudis. Because, it is possible that the conduct of opposition groups could be interpreted as the official policy of Tehran.
On the other hand, the Saudis are expected to end their double-standards toward Iran and those in Riyadh favoring better ties with Tehran should intensify their efforts.
At present, the friends of Iran are closely following up Tehran’s response to the death of King Abdullah. They believe that the visit of a high-level Iranian delegation to attend the memorial ceremony of King Abdullah could mark an important initiative for revamping ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia.