Could A New Hegemon Fix Ancient Rivalries Between Saudi Arabia And Iran?

In West Asia, the Iran-Saudi Arabia peace agreement is a game-changer.

Could A New Hegemon Fix Ancient Rivalries Between Saudi Arabia And Iran?

The region is expected to undergo a significant realignment of forces. Others, however, believe that a new, wannabe hegemon – China – is attempting to fill the vacancy left by the USA’s old, distracted, somewhat confused hegemon.

China’s role as a peacemaker between the Saudis and Iranians is a significant development that must be addressed, but it is also vital to overestimate or overhype its significance.

It’s almost impossible to forget the excitement over the US-Iran thaw nearly ten years ago. There is nothing earth-shattering about the agreement on its own.

The only change it makes is restoring the bilateral diplomatic relations severed in 2016. Additionally, old agreements between the two countries regarding security and economic cooperation are reestablished under the contract.

Nothing is inspiring about all of this. A notable aspect of this dispute is both protagonists’ commitment to respecting the sovereignty of states and not interfering with them.Could A New Hegemon Fix Ancient Rivalries Between Saudi Arabia And Iran?

There is an exciting aspect to this formulation since it does not speak of interfering with or respecting one’s neighbour’s sovereignty but that of states.

It may reference the ending of the Saudi and Iranian proxy wars in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. Do you believe both sides will end their involvement in these ‘small wars’ and stick to this agreement?

Saudis and Iranians have been at war since the beginning of Islam, so there is a long history of rivalry, even hostility, between them. In addition to being sectarian, it also involves a civilizational and cultural conflict.

Geopolitical power games are manifesting an ideological struggle for control of Islam. Furthermore, the Saudi leadership is attempting to embrace a worldview radically different from that of Iran’s antediluvian Ayatollah in its transformational efforts.

The 1,500-year-old rivalry won’t end just because a new wannabe sheriff shows up. The US had unquestioned hegemony over Saudi Arabia and pre-Islamic revolution Iran; however, relations between the two were often tense and ebbed and flowed.

People who believe that things will be radically different with China entering have another thought on their minds. Even so, compulsions and calculations connected to politics, security, and diplomacy have made the recent thaw possible.

There will, at best, be an uneasy accommodation based on the results, but they are more tactical than strategic. For now, all sides will issue grand statements of peace, cooperation, investment, and brotherhood.Could A New Hegemon Fix Ancient Rivalries Between Saudi Arabia And Iran?

Despite China’s economic success and burgeoning military power, the agreement represents a diplomatic coup for Beijing. It raises its profile beyond that of an economic powerhouse and a burgeoning military power.

It is no secret that China can intercede between nations and bridge differences between them drawn as daggers by their adversaries.

In the process, however, it may lose its equities with both sides if it cannot maintain the thaw or ensure that both sides adhere to their agreements.

The Chinese will, however, enjoy the glory of what appears to be a diplomatic coup for the time being. Based on this achievement, it would be wrong to assume that the Chinese have replaced the US as the new big daddies of the region.

The Chinese played the role they did because of shoddy US diplomacy, which left a vacuum in the region for them to fill. There is an increasing sense that the US is more focused on the area than it once was.

There is some evidence, however, that the US no longer views West Asia as central to its interests as it did two decades ago. Due to the Ukrainian conflict, the focus of American policy has shifted from the Indo-Pacific to the conflict with China.

As a result, the US does not have nearly any equity in Iran that could have been used as an honest broker. It is fair to say that the Americans have made mistakes even with the Saudis.

Especially after the Khashoggi matter, the Biden administration treated Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) poorly.

There is no sense in reducing the entire relationship with Saudis to just this unsavoury incident (you can’t say other countries, including the US and its European allies, haven’t ever done it, just that the Saudis were extremely clumsy and caught out).

The Americans should double down in backing MbS, attempting a transformation of West Asia that was unimaginable a few years ago. Instead of encouraging and supporting MbS, American foreign policy seems dominated by workerism, which promotes and punishes him.Could A New Hegemon Fix Ancient Rivalries Between Saudi Arabia And Iran?

As a medieval monarchy, the US was happy to ignore the lack of civil rights, women’s rights, and human rights in Saudi Arabia; now, as Saudi Arabia is retaking its past and opening up, Americans are hell-bent on scolding and shaming its ruling class.

The US has been more than happy to deal with some of the worst leaders in the world. MbS, on the other hand, is an angel in comparison.

Despite their chilly relations, Saudi Arabia and the US kept the latter informed about Iran’s developments. With the space available, the Saudis have tried to maximize their advantage quite effectively.

As they normalize relations with Iran, they hope to disarm Iran and prevent its aggressive and interventionist diplomacy from posing significant threats, particularly regarding areas of vital security interest for Saudi Arabia.

It allows Saudi Arabia to conduct domestic, military, and diplomatic operations. Additionally, the Saudis want to take advantage of the rivalry between the US and China.

In this move, they believe the US will focus on maintaining close ties with Saudi Arabia and offering them the security guarantees they desire.

Additionally, the new developments and realities might temper the US’ reluctance to sell some weapons systems to Saudi Arabia and hector and preach to them.

On the other hand, the Iranians also get some space. After being beleaguered by unending protests by women, under US-led Western sanctions, and facing an economic crisis, the Iranians were forced into isolation.

Normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia will affect other Arab states like the UAE. However, the Iranian benefits seem limited compared to the advantages Saudi Arabia enjoys.

Iran’s sanctions will not disappear anytime soon. The UAE or Saudis are unlikely to evade these sanctions. As long as they have opened up channels with Israel, the Saudis will not go back.

The diplomatic normalization between Israel and Saudi allies like the UAE is also unlikely to be reversed. As the I2U2 has demonstrated, new groupings will be around for a while.

The Saudis’ pressure on Iran’s nuclear programme will be interesting to watch. The Saudis and the Iranians both face critical issues here.

It is being reported that some analysts, especially those in Pakistan, are getting all excited and see the formation of a new anti-Western alliance led by China.

As Pakistani strategists (an oxymoron if ever there was one) look forward to the eventual formation of a PRICS alliance (Pakistan-Russia-Iran-China-Saudi Arabia), they believe their dream could soon become real.

Using this method, Pakistan can again take advantage of its geography to generate geostrategic rents. Finally, India will become isolated in the region due to this.Could A New Hegemon Fix Ancient Rivalries Between Saudi Arabia And Iran?

That is another example of Pakistan’s delusions that have led to that nation’s ruin. India is undoubtedly uncomfortable seeing China play such a significant diplomatic role in a region in which it has economic and security interests.

However, the relationship between India and all the major players in the region continues to deepen and strengthen. The Saudi-Iran thaw has been helpful to India in some ways when it comes to walking the diplomatic tightrope.

Even though India must watch the Chinese intrusions and influence in the region very carefully, it should be able to handle what the Chinese have done diplomatically.

Nandana Valsan

Nandana Valsan is a Journalist/Writer by profession and an 'India Book of Records holder from Kochi, Kerala. She is pursuing MBA and specializes in Journalism and Mass Communication. She’s best known for News Writings for both small and large Web News Media, Online Publications, Freelance writing, and so on. ‘True Love: A Fantasy Bond’ is her first published write-up as a co-author and 'Paradesi Synagogue: History, Tradition & Antiquity' is her second successful write-up in a book as a co-author in the National Record Anthology. She has won Millenia 15 Most Deserving Youth Award 2022 in the category of Writer. A lot of milestones are waiting for her to achieve. Being a Writer, her passion for helping readers in all aspects of today's digital era flows through in the expert industry coverage she provides.

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