Andrew Korybko |
Iranian President Rouhani pulled off a soft power masterstroke when he publicly gave Saudi Arabia two clear conditions for the resumption of bilateral relations. He announced that his rivals would have to halt the bombing in Yemen and move away from “Israel”, after which the two Great Powers could unite over their support for Palestine and possibly even enjoy “good relations” with one another after some time.
Rouhani reassured Riyadh that Tehran, unlike Washington, keeps its word when it comes to any deal that it makes, but these two seemingly simple steps that Iran is asking Saudi Arabia to first take are actually a bit difficult for Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to agree to despite the way that he publicly presents himself.
Being the millennia-long practitioners of diplomacy that they are, the Iranians knew better than to say so directly and risk accusations of “politicizing” the Palestinian issue.
The War on Yemen has turned into a quagmire that appears ever more inescapable by the day, especially since former President Saleh’s slaying at the hands of his former Houthi allies last week, and any temporary halt to the campaign under those circumstances – particularly after Rouhani’s request – would implicitly signify Riyadh’s recognition of the Houthis as the legitimate political-military force in North Yemen.
Read more: Saudi Arabia raises temperature against Iran
They’ll only stop the bombing if a ‘face-saving’ ‘political compromise’ can be found, possibly with Saleh’s General People’s Congress serving as the publicly presentable front organization for representing the Houthis in international negotiations, but the hope for that happening might have died with Saleh. As for Saudi Arabia’s ties with “Israel”, they’re the epitome of “political incorrectness” because the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques isn’t supposed to support what is widely viewed in the Muslim world as the Zionist occupation of the Third Holy Mosque of Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem.
Arabs refer to its host city as Al-Quds in their language, and “Israel’s” control over this site following the 1967 Six-Day War is a major impediment to any prospective Mideast peace deal. Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia and “Israel” have strategically converged over the years due to their shared stance against Iran, and it’s unlikely that Mohammed Bin Salman will diverge from this trajectory.
Rouhani reassured Riyadh that Tehran, unlike Washington, keeps its word when it comes to any deal that it makes, but these two seemingly simple steps that Iran is asking Saudi Arabia
Iran knew very well that Saudi Arabia probably wouldn’t end up meeting either of the two preconditions that it set out of the resumption of normal relations, but it cleverly made a highly publicized show of its request by having the President of all people deliver this message in a pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist context to put its rival on the spot.
This in turn allows Tehran to shape the international framing of its bilateral relations with Riyadh in such a way as to guide the global Muslim community – or “Ummah” – to the conclusion that Saudi Arabia is passing up unity with its co-confessionals at this pivotal moment in history because it sold out to “Israel” for self-interested reasons.
Read more: Saudi Arabia & Iran: A potential nuclear race in the making?
Being the millennia-long practitioners of diplomacy that they are, the Iranians knew better than to say so directly and risk accusations of “politicizing” the Palestinian issue, hence why they went about it this way in indirectly getting across this very powerful point.
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Andrew Korybko is a political analyst, journalist and a regular contributor to several online journals, as well as a member of the expert council for the Institute of Strategic Studies and Predictions at the People’s Friendship University of Russia. He specializes in Russian affairs and geopolitics, specifically the US strategy in Eurasia.The views expressed in this article are author’s own. It does not reflect Global Village Space Editorial policy.