The Iran dilemma of the Saudi crown prince

The Iran dilemma of the Saudi crown prince, Washington Times, S. Rob Sobhani, July 26, 2017

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Associated Press photo

The first step that Saudi Arabia’s new crown prince can take is to deliver an address to the Iranian people in which he lays out his vision for a peaceful and friendly relation with people of Iran. In this address, Mohammed bin Salman can touch upon the rich history of Iran, its unique culture and heritage, and end by extending his hand of friendship to his natural allies — the people of Iran.

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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The starting point for any policy that the new crown prince of Saudi ArabiaMohammed bin Salman, adopts toward the Islamic Republic of Iran is to understand two basic facts. First, the Iranian regime continues to be the most serious threat to regional security in the Middle East and the major state sponsor of terrorism. Second, the Iranian people continue to be the most serious threat to the Islamic regime and the only real hope for a fundamental change in Iran.

If Mohammed bin Salman adopts the right policies in his dealings with the Islamic regime, not only will he go down in history as the leader who solved the “Iran Problem,” he will also usher in a new economic dynamic within the broader Middle East. In view of his friendship with President Trump, any new and bold approach by Mohammed bin Salman toward the Islamic regime in Tehran will no doubt have the full support of the president and his entire national security team.

To date Saudi policy toward Iran has not produced the results that Riyadh had hoped would either appease the mullahs or contain the bad behavior of the regime in Tehran. For example, the latest policy decision by Saudi Arabia to confront the Iranian regime by war through proxy in Yemen has not deterred the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The conflict in Yemen is fast becoming a quagmire for Riyadh. According to some estimates, the Saudi effort to confront Iran in Yemen is costing the kingdom around $600 million per month. After spending billions of dollars, Saudi Arabia is not close to thwarting the designs of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to build a beachhead on the Arabian Peninsula by supporting his Houthi allies.

Indeed, the Saudi narrative against the Iranian regime, eloquently enunciated by Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubair, captures the essence of Tehran’s dangerous behavior in places like Yemen, Bahrain, Syria and Lebanon, but it does not address the fundamental underlying challenge: how to deal with a regime that is the mortal enemy of Saudi Arabia.

The overarching policy that Mohammed bin Salman should seriously consider is to adopt a soft-power approach to solving his Iran dilemma. This policy starts by drawing a clear distinction between the people of Iran and their rulers. The first step that Saudi Arabia’s new crown prince can take is to deliver an address to the Iranian people in which he lays out his vision for a peaceful and friendly relation with people of Iran. In this address, Mohammed bin Salman can touch upon the rich history of Iran, its unique culture and heritage, and end by extending his hand of friendship to his natural allies — the people of Iran.

The concrete steps the young crown prince may wish to consider following his address to the Iranian people are as follows: First, he can announce the creation of a fund to pay for the pilgrimage of elderly Iranians to Mecca and Medina. For the average Iranian whose per-capita gross national product has shrunk since the overthrow of Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, making the obligatory visit to Islam’s holiest sites has become a financial burden. Mohammed bin Salman can endear himself to millions of Iranians through this act of charity.

Explore posts in the same categories: Iran, Iran - regime change, Saudi Arabia and Iran, Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman

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