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The difference between Saudi Arabia and Iran - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Iran’s recent threats towards Saudi Arabia, both overt and covert, help the observer to understand the difference between Riyadh and Tehran. Likewise, they are an indication that Iran has actually begun to suffer from the international sanctions that are now targeting its oil, central bank and the Iranian economy as a whole.

The Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Akbar Salehi, has called on Saudi Arabia to “rethink” its pledge to compensate for any shortfall in the supply of oil that may result from the imposition of further sanctions upon Iran, describing the Saudi step as “unfriendly”. In addition to this, Iran also issued another, more aggressive statement, when Mohammed Ali Khatibi, Tehran’s representative to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), said that “If they (Saudi Arabia and Gulf states) give the green light to replacing Iran’s oil, these countries would be the main culprits for whatever happens in the region”!

These two Iranian statements show the difference between Riyadh and Tehran. Saudi Arabia, as usual, is trying to reassure global markets and promote stability, while Iran is seeking to blackmail the international community and threaten the Gulf States, primarily Saudi Arabia. Tehran is acting as if it is holding the Gulf hostage in order to implement its nuclear, political or sectarian agenda, and it wants the Saudis to comply with that! What Iran is doing, specifically in light of its confrontation with the international community, is that it is saying “grant me this otherwise I will do that to the Gulf States”, and this is piracy, or at least the work of bandits, and not the art of politics or good neighborly relations. If Iran deems Saudi Arabia’s reassurances to global markets to be an unfriendly act, then what should we call the Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz?

This is not all of course, Iran’s recent statements towards Saudi Arabia also tell us that Iran has actually began to suffer from the sanctions already imposed, and those that will be imposed. It appears that Tehran’s mullahs are now feeling the pinch of the sanctions, and what they will lead to. Thus, they have rushed in a wave of retaliation against Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, in accordance with its practice of extortion. This shows that the mentality which runs the Iranian economy, and likewise its oil sector, is no different from the mentality that runs politics in Iran. This is what we are seeing whether from Tehran’s foreign policies, or from what is issued by its allies in the region, in Iraq, Lebanon, and even Syria, where we see kidnappings, assassinations, bombings and of course the capture of hostages. This is what happened with the British embassy in Tehran, not twenty years ago, but just two months ago or less!

Thus, the same mindset, it seems, is running Iran’s oil and economic policy, when we see, and hear, the Iranian threats to Saudi Arabia, both overt and covert. These statements also indicate that Iran has actually begun to suffer from the economic sanctions, in terms of what has been imposed already and what will be imposed. This is a good thing, no doubt.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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