Saudi move to build bridges with Iran should have a positive effect in region

What Arabic-language commentators are saying about regional relationships.

Over the past few weeks, the Arab world has seen multiple changes. Old alliances – such as the one between Egypt and Saudi Arabia – have been reaffirmed, while presidential and legislative elections are taking place in many countries in the region.

Against this backdrop, Saudi Arabia’s extended invitation to Iran to send a representative to Riyadh has given rise to different reactions in the Arabic media.

“Opinion in the Saudi media reflected apprehension, as some considered the invitation to be an outcome of diplomatic concerns that should be taken lightly, while others rushed to depict Iran as a four-dimensional monster,” wrote Teraad Al Ammri, in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

The first element that causes concern is Iran’s interference in Arab countries’ internal affairs. The second one is the sectarian tension between Sunnis and ­Shiites. The third is Iran’s wish to impose its political dominance over the region and the last one is Iran’s growing military power and the ambiguity surrounding its nuclear ambitions, he said.

“Such fear is unjustified and unrealistic. It is but an illusion that was widely promoted in one way or another, portraying Iran as a ‘political monster’. Our view is that such illusions are likely to turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy that will stand as a major obstacle to relations between the two countries if wise politicians fail to break these illusions and shed light on them,” added Al Ammri.

Writing in the pan-Arab daily Asharq El Awsat, the columnist Abdallah Al Mahajarani pointed out six essential topics that need to be discussed by the Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers in the following order: Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, Palestine and Yemen.

He highlighted two important matters. One is that “both Saudi Arabia and Iran have the power, capabilities, legitimacy and deep influence to solve the series of crises in the region, or in the Muslim world in general”.

The other one is that “politics is described as a science or the art of possibilities. They are neither about distant dreams nor wishes. In politics, one has to keep the reality in mind. According to Hindu philosophy, one must use three eyes while seeking a strategy to achieve goals and reach the destination. One of them must be kept on the horizon [on our dreams and wishes], the second one on reality and the third on both.

“Saudi Arabia and Iran can find a positive solution for everyone in the region, one through which both will achieve victory. Furthermore, they can play a larger role in the world if they focus on a common regional strategy,” concluded Al Mahajarani.

The columnist Abdul Rahman Al Wabli wrote in the Saudi daily Al Watan that “dialogue is a means of communication and understanding among human beings, whether individuals, groups or states, and life is solely possible through it. The absence thereof will lead to the absence of understanding and comprehension. They will be replaced with misunderstanding and hatred, leading to conflicts, clashes and wars”.

He considered Saudi Arabia’s initiative as “a starting point to reach an understanding between both countries on absurd and unjustified disputes and conflicts that are going on in the region, as these conflicts have a negative impact on peace and security in Saudi Arabia, Iran and the wider region”.

The Saudi government initiated the dialogue to protect the area from disputes and conflicts.

“Nothing guarantees that these initiatives will lead to predefined and speedy solutions, but they will certainly cool down the current atmosphere and establish strategic understandings in the medium and long term”, Al Wabli observed.

Published: May 26, 2014 04:00 AM


Editor's Picks
Sign up to:

* Please select one