Saudis’ new approach to Iran, Russia - result of regional schemes' failure

Tehran, Iran, September 11

By Mehdi Sepahvand - Trend:

The moves by Saudi Arabia to begin new cooperation with Iran and Russia are the result of the House of Saud’s failure to drive its regional schemes home, Shuaib Bahman, an analyst at the Institute of Iran and Eurasia Studies, told Trend.

“There can hardly be a place to imagine a genuine change in the Saudi mode of thought as the real reason behind their new approach,” Bahman noted.

“They were planning for a swift replacement in Syria of Bashar al-Assad with one they liked and who opposed Iran. But they failed. They also obviously failed to quash the Ansarullah in Yemen and bring Mansour al-Hadi back. Therefore, their new turn in approaching Iran and Russia are rather a shift in approach occasioned by their failures,” the expert believes.

Saudis know if they do not mean to launch direct talks with Iran, the only power with influence in Syria that remains is Russia, so they try some new approach to Moscow, Bahman said.

However, he noted, Russia considers Saudi Arabia a source of insecurity and spread of extremist ideologies, from their support for separatist forces in North Caucasia to their enticing people from the area to join the Islamic State (aka IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) in Syria.

"Therefore, Russia is not going to consider any growing ties with Saudi Arabia," he said. “Russians also know that Saudi Arabia depends heavily on the US, and if they want to make a choice between Russia and the US, they will surely go for the US".

Bahman added that the two countries also disagree on economic terms.

"They are both important oil states. Russians believe the last couple of year’s dropping crude prices was a Saudi scheme to ground them in Ukraine and Syria, or at least to force them withhold some of the money they intended to invest in Syria and instead spend it in Ukraine,” Bahman noted.

Recently Western media have been suggesting fresh moves by Riyadh to join the front that supports Assad in Syria, namely Iran and Russia.

Saudi Arabia may be the latest country to give up on regime change in Syria and fall in line with Russia’s successful campaign to shore up al-Assad, Bloomberg reported September 8.

There are signs that the nations, long at odds over Syria, are now cooperating over a settlement that would leave Assad in place for the time being, the channel stated, adding the Saudis hosted a meeting of Syrian opposition factions last month, pushing for an accord between hardline anti-Assad groups and others less insistent on his immediate departure.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Saudi Arabia Saturday for talks, before an expected visit to Moscow by King Salman next month.

A Saudi shift would mark a fresh blow for Syrian rebels who have seen Assad regain control of much of the country in the past two years, backed by Russian air power. Earlier this year, President Donald Trump’s administration ended a military aid program for the rebels.

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