By Payman Yazdani
March 12, 2023 – TEHRAN TIMES
TEHRAN– While implementation of the Iran-Saudi agreement will be a hurdle on the path of long-term regional policies of Washington and Europe, they will invent new tools to achieve their goals, says a political scientist.
After several days of intensive negotiations hosted by China, Iran and Saudi Arabia finally clinched a deal on Friday to restore diplomatic relations and re-open embassies, seven years after ties were severed over several issues.
The deal, brokered by China, was announced all of a sudden on Friday.
Both sides have agreed to resume diplomatic relations between and re-open their embassies and missions within a period not exceeding two months, and the agreement also includes their affirmation of the respect for the sovereignty of states and the non-interference in internal affairs of states.
According to the agreement, they also agreed that the ministers of foreign affairs of both countries shall meet to implement this, arrange for the return of their ambassadors, and discuss means of enhancing bilateral ties.
To know more about the global and regional impacts of the agreement between two regional rival oil-producing powers brokered by the world’s biggest oil-consuming country, China we reached out to Nader Entessar, professor emeritus of political science from the University of South Alabama.
Here is the full text of the interview:
How will the agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran as two regional powers and rivals affect the US and Europe pressures on Iran?
I am not sure if the current policies of the West, especially the U.S., towards Iran will change significantly in the aftermath of the Iran-Saudi agreement to restore and normalize their ties. The US and many of its Western European allies still live in a world that no longer exists. They think we are still in the bipolar world of the Cold War and all they need to do is shout “jump” and others will have to respond in unison by barking “how high.” This mentality is reflected in the daily actions and pronouncements of the Washington foreign policy elite and its “think tanks” (aka the Blob). They all sound and act as if they have gone to the same propaganda school.
Differences and creating differences among regional countries have always been a tool in the hands of extra-regional powers to drive their own interests and goals in our region, Can this agreement be a hurdle for the regional policy of the US and the Europeans?
Yes, if implemented fully, the Iran-Saudi agreement will be a hurdle on the path of long-term regional policies of Washington and its European allies. But the extra-regional powers will most certainly invent or re-invent other tools in hope of succeeding in achieving their goals. Recent history has shown that the West does not accept defeat easily nor does it learn from its foreign policy follies and setbacks.
Saudi Arabia, as the US’s old key regional ally, is trying to diversify its international allies and partners and is challenging Washington, why? Is it a matter of mistrust?
Although it is true that Saudi Arabia has been a key US ally in the region for a long time and most likely will remain an important cog in the West’s foreign policy machine in the region in the foreseeable future, Riyadh is now embarking upon a long-term planning to diversify its foreign policy and not place all of its eggs in Washington’s baskets. Part of this may be due to the loss of absolute trust in Washington, but part of it is the result of the maturation of Saudi Arabia’s development into a regional power player with its own aspirations that may not always be identical to Washington’s goals.
What are China’s motives for doing its best to settle the gaps between Iran and Saudi Arabia?
China has developed significant economic ties with many countries in West Asia and beyond. Beijing, unlike Washington, considers regional stability and cooperative arrangements with all regional states as pillars of its economic policies. Because China has developed good relations with every regional state, it is in a unique position to serve as an impartial mediator to settle regional disputes. This explains why China and not the United States was the extra-regional power that played a key role in the recent Iran-Saudi agreement. In fact, it would have been impossible for Washington to play the constructive role played by Beijing in bringing Tehran and Riyadh closer to each other.
Saud Arabia is the biggest oil producer, China is the biggest consumer, Iran is a big oil producer and the most politically decisive country against US hegemonic power. How can the convergence of these three countries affect the world order?
Only future developments can provide a clear answer to this question. However, what is clear is that the emerging multipolar world whose parameters are shifting and being defined regularly will augur new global arrangements that will continue to challenge the US as the global hegemon in ways that are difficult to predict at the present time. Although the US will continue to be a major player in the emerging world order, it will not be the uncontested hegemon of this global order. Washington may find it difficult to accept its declining hegemony and most likely will undertake measures to combat it, the world order of the future will not accept any singular hegemony. The history of the world demonstrates that no country can maintain its global hegemony forever.
What is the message of this agreement sent from Tehran to Washington, From Beijing to Washington, and from Riyadh to Washington?
The message is clear. Countries of the world (even those that have close ties with Washington) have their own interests to promote and Washington cannot depend on lecturing or dictating to them what their interests should be. In 2009, Princeton University Press published a pithy book by foreign policy experts John Hulsman and Wes Mitchell titled “The Godfather Doctrine: A Foreign Policy Parable” in which the authors argued that the “age of American global dominance is drawing to a rapid and definitive close.” In short, the godfather mentality, brilliantly portrayed by Marlon Brando in the classic movie “The Godfather,” can no longer guarantee the US global hegemony or the contours of the twenty-first-century global order.
Categories: Arab World, Asia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia
Leave a Reply