Thinking and reflection in the agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia

Political developments that are created in the context of political stability and in the heart of trends, generally have the ability to predict and plan strategically, but it is very difficult to predict and plan the changes that are created in the context of instabilities and eventful environment.
9 April 2023
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Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini

Political developments that are created in the context of political stability and in the heart of trends, generally have the ability to predict and plan strategically, but it is very difficult to predict and plan the changes that are created in the context of instabilities and eventful environment. In this situation, from the perspective of chaos theory, instead of forecasting, one should think about possible futures in the future, and the road map should also be strategically planned based on possible scenarios drawn in the future.

The tripartite statement of March 10, 2032 between Iran, Saudi Arabia and China should also be explained and analyzed in the unstable, turbulent and eventful environment of West Asia and the international system. Based on this, instead of predicting and prescribing, it is necessary to firstly describe and explain the relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the past and present, and then by placing your mind in the geography of the future, think about various scenarios and prescribe a scenario the payment in the final stage.

  1. Description and explanation of Iran-Saudi relations requires answers to three questions; what is it, why and how?
  2. What components are the relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia based on?
  3. Why did Iran and Saudi Arabia decide to manage and control the tensions between them?
  4. How can the current event be used to create stable and long-term relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia?

The answer to the first question requires a historical description of Iran-Saudi relations. The role of internal factors, geopolitical factors, ideological factors and the structure of the international system in relations between them determines the main components of Iran-Saudi relations. Historical research shows that geopolitical factors and the structure of the international system have been more effective than domestic and ideological factors in the relations between the two countries.

The answer to the second question requires historical analysis. During the last half century, there has always been some kind of confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, a confrontation that has sometimes been active and sometimes inactive (Active & none active confrontation). It seems that the same theoretical framework that explains the deactivation of Iran's confrontation with Saudi Arabia in the years after the imposed war (1991-2003) and also after the 33-day war (2006-2010) show the present will of the leaders of Iran and Saudi Arabia. In the mentioned years, the change in the balance of power in Iran's favor and the acceptance of Iran's superiority in regional equations, led Saudi Arabia to de-escalate tensions with Iran. Regarding today's agreement, it should be discussed that the balance of power in the region has changed in favor of which of the parties. From one point of view, it can be said that the balance of power has changed to the benefit of Saudi Arabia and from another point of view to the benefit of Iran. What is new in today's situation compared to the past is the positive intervention of a foreign power that has converged the interests of the three countries of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China. From the analytical point of view, two factors have been effective in the will of the two countries. First, changing the balance of power in economic and political matters in favor of Saudi Arabia and changing the balance of power in military and security matters in favor of Iran; the other is the convergence of strategic interests of the three countries in stability.

The answer to the third question requires future research. In this context, key trends and events should be extrapolated in order to identify future drivers in Iran-Saudi relations in the coming years. To answer the third question, it is very important to see the March 10 statement as the starting point of relations. Then by analyzing the weaknesses and strengths of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the environmental opportunities and threats, let's sit at the crossroads of weakness/strength/threat/opportunity and draw the future scenarios with a view to the future and in the end, based on the strategic goals of the Islamic Republic in the region, draw a roadmap for the relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini, senior expert at the Institute for Political and International Studies

 (The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)

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