Saudi Arabia fears rapprochement between Washington and Tehran after 30 years of estrangement will be at its expense
Saudi Arabia maintained a discreet silence on Sunday about the Iranian nuclear deal in Geneva but is thought likely to issue a guarded welcome despite its strong and clearly signalled reservations about what it fears is the rehabilitation of its longstanding regional rival.
Saudi Arabia has long-signalled that it would also seek to acquire nuclear weapons – most likely from Pakistan – if Iran had them. Its own security interests lie in seeing this agreement succeed. But it fears that a new relationship between Washington and Tehran will be at its expense. Iran’s backing for Assad, its intimate relationship with Hezbollah in Lebanon and support and inspiration for Shias in Iraq, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia’s eastern province are all issues of profound concern.
The Saudis and the other Gulf states spent billions of dollars backing Saddam Hussein in his 1980-88 year war against Iran – itself a response to the fears created by the 1979 Islamic revolution. Adjusting to a genuine thaw in relations between the west and Tehran is not going to be easy.