Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Iran vs Saudi Arabia, the US dilemma

Iran has recently been keener on participating with the international community to help solve the Syrian conflict and try to bring more stability to the Middle East.
The manifestation of this has been the participation in the meeting that occurred recently in Vienna. Iran sat at the same table with the US, Russia but also twenty other countries including Saudi Arabia.
Unfortunately perhaps the biggest takeaway of this meeting is not an actual solution for the Syrian conflict but the fact that an old rivalry seems to be yet another obstacle in the way of solving this conflict. In Vienna Iran has threaten to leave the negotiations because of Saudi Arabia “unproductive attitude”.
This once again demonstrate the difficult balance that the US needs to try to find in the Middle East when trying to deal with the two regional powers fighting for local hegemony. Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran have had a conflicting relationship throughout their history. However this has been exacerbated after the Iranian revolution and when the country political elite became more tied with the country religious elite.
After finally striking a deal with Iran on its nuclear facilities, the US quickly saw a negative reaction from its more historical ally in the region in Saudi Arabia. Riyadh fears that this might actually give more freedom for Iran to get the nuclear bomb.
Hoping to appease some of these negative feelings the US has recently made a deal with Saudi Arabia to sell them aircraft carriers, thus also allowing them to increase their military force. So an argument can be made that both of them are actually stronger than before and less likely to deter in hostility towards one another.
Ultimately we might wonder now that Iran wants to be more of a player in international issues in the Middle East how the US will try to balance its polices there to keep the two rival engaged and also be able to solve issues like Syria. This will prove in any case to be very complicated with two opposed ideologies in power in each country. 


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