1st Edition

The Development of Saudi-Iranian Relations since the 1990s Between conflict and accommodation

By Fahad M. Alsultan, Pedram Saeid Copyright 2017
    228 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    228 Pages
    by Routledge

    Saudi Arabia and Iran have established themselves as the two regional heavyweights in one of the world’s most tumultuous but critically significant regions. The two countries compete on many fronts, including regional politics, oil prices, and for leadership of the Islamic world, a competition with undeniable repercussions for the Greater Middle East and for the world. Some observers have gone so far as to claim that virtually everything that happens in this area of the world can be viewed as part of the Saudi-Iranian power struggle. With increasing importance of the region as the dominant supplier of world energy and the birthplace of Islamic militant groups, the consequences of not understanding Saudi-Iranian rivalry in the region have never been more serious. A range of internal and external explanatory factors explains the ups and downs of Saudi-Iranian relations since the 1990s. This book captures this complexity by drawing on multicausal explanations through multiple levels of interdisciplinary analysis. This is the first book on the subject that is co-authored by one author from Saudi Arabia and one from Iran. This collaboration allowed the authors to make the best use of Persian and Arabic sources, generating a locally meaningful account of the two countries’ relationship. As Iranian and Saudi nationals, they encountered less difficulty in gaining access to research participants, building rapport and conducting interviews with Iranian and Saudi scholars and informants.


    Table of Contents *


    Preface *

    Chapter 1: Theorising Saudi-Iranian Relations *

    Introduction *

    The conceptual framework *

    The Individual Level of Analysis *

    Group Decision-Making *

    State-Level Analysis *

    Political Regimes and Foreign Policy *

    Institutional Actors and Structures *

    National Role Concept and National Interests *

    The System Level of Analysis *

    Realism and the Middle East Sub-System *

    The alignments and alliances patterns *

    Marxist theories, oil and American intervention in the region *

    Appropriateness of International Relations Theories to this Study *

    Foreign Policy Behaviours and Outcomes *

    Foreign Policy Behaviour *

    Foreign Policy Outcomes *

    Conclusion *

    Chapter 2: The Foreign Policy of Iran *

    Introduction *

    The Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: Life, Personality and Political Perceptions *

    Domestic Structures, Actors and Foreign Policymaking in Iran *

    The Nature and Stability of the Iranian Regime *

    The Supreme Leader *

    The Supreme National Security Council *

    The Foreign Ministry and Diplomatic Service *

    Iranian Parliament (Majlis) *

    Informal Institutions and Actors *

    The political factions *

    The clerical establishment *

    The Iranian armed forces *

    Group Decision-Making in Iranian Foreign Policy *

    Iranian Foreign Policy Orientation *

    Conclusion *

    Chapter 3: The Foreign Policy of Saudi Arabia *

    Introduction *

    King Abdullah’s Personality and Perceptions *

    The Saudi Political System *

    The Royal Family and Foreign Policy *

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Diplomatic Service *

    The Saudi National Security Council *

    The Consultative Assembly (Majlis Al-Shura) *

    The Religious Establishment (Ulema) *

    The Foreign Policy Decision Making Process *

    The Saudi Foreign Policy Orientation *

    Conclusion *

    Chapter 4: Saudi-Iranian Relations under Rafsanjani: A Return to Normalcy (1989-1997) *

    Introduction *

    The Iran-Iraq Ceasefire and the 1989 Makkah bombing *

    The Political Landscape under Rafsanjani *

    Ali Akbar Hamshemi Rafsanjani (1989-1997): Life, Personality and Political Perceptions *

    External Determinants of Bilateral Relations *

    The Iraq Factor *

    Iraqi’s invasion of Kuwait *

    The Iraqis’ uprising after Saddam’s defeat *

    The Signs of Improvement in Saudi Iranian Relations after the Second Gulf War *

    The Gulf Islands Dispute *

    Qatar gas dispute *

    The Unrest in Bahrain *

    OPEC: An Issue of Disagreement *

    The Khobar Bombing of 1996 *

    Conclusion *

    Chapter 5: Saudi-Iranian Relations under Khatami – An Unprecedented Breakthrough in Bilateral Relations (1997-2005) *

    Introduction *

    Domestic Developments in Iran: The Advent of the Reformist Movement and the Khatami Presidency *

    Muhammad Khatami: Life, Personality and Perceptions of Foreign Policy *

    The Saudi Response to the Khatami Presidency *

    The Organisation of Islamic Conference Meeting in Tehran and its Implications for Iran-Saudi Relations *

    Rafsanjani’s Trip to Saudi Arabia and Economic Achievements *

    Khatami’s Visit of Saudi Arabia and Security Pact *

    US-Iranian Relationship and its Impact on Saudi-Iranian Relations *

    Prior to 9/11 incident *

    In the aftermath of 9/11 incident *

    The Riyadh Compound Bombing of 2003 *

    Conclusion *

    Chapter 6: Saudi-Iranian Relations in Ahmadinejad’s Presidency (2005-2013): Unsteady Relations *

    Introduction *

    Domestic Developments in Iran: The Rise of New Conservatives *

    Mahmmud Ahmadinejad: Life, Personality and Perceptions of Foreign Policy *

    Initial Saudi Responses to the Ahmadinejad Victory *

    Makkah Organization of the Islamic Conference and Ahmadinejad’s controversial remarks *

    Regional Factors Influencing Two Countries’ Relations *

    The Competition of Iran and Saudi Arabia in Iraq *

    Saudi Iranian Competition over Lebanon *

    Iran and United States’ Relations and its Impact on the Two Countries’ Relations *

    The Influence of Iran Nuclear Program on the Two Countries’ Relations *

    The Signs of Thaw in the Two Countries’ Relations in Ahmadinejad’s First Term *

    Ahmadinejad’s trip to Hajj and Rafsanjani’s attendance in the Islamic Dialogue Conference in Makkah *

    The Oil Impact *

    The controversial re-election of Ahmadinejad and Saudi Arabia’s response *

    Arab Spring *

    The Terrorism and Covert Operations *

    Conclusion *

    Chapter 7: Saudi-Iranian Relations after Rouhani: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back (2013 onward) *

    Introduction *

    Rouhani’s entanglement in Ahmadinejad’s legacy *

    Iran and P5 + 1 interim accord in 2013 *

    The rise of Daesh and complexity of situation *

    Oil Politics *

    King Abdullah’s death *

    The two countries’ relations *

    Conclusion *

    Epilogue *

    Appendices *

    Bibliography *

    Index *


    Fahad M. Alsultan, Qassim University, Saudi Arabia

    Pedram Saeid, University of Hull, UK