GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Revisiting Saudi Arabia – Iran relations
Paper Proposal Text :
For the greater part of medieval times, relations between Arabia (now Saudi Arabia) and Iran revolved round competing identities viz. religious and ethno-national. Their rivalry assumed new skin after World War II. Presence of hydrocarbon reserves sucked Middle East and the Gulf region into the vortex of big power game. Now the concern was on security and strategy. Oil being the new and most powerful determinant of changed strategy, the US’ pursue ‘Twin Pillar’ strategy that meant maintaining parity between the two oil producing countries in the region conditioned by historic ethno-religious divide.
The defining line in their relations surfaced with the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979 challenging the legitimacy of Saudi monarchy. Now the rivalry shifted from ethno-sectarianism to leadership of the Islamic world. Oil rivalry actually surfaced with the exit of Great Britain from Middle East in 1970. Dispute over the name of the Gulf apart, OPEC gave leverage to Saudi Arabia as the arbiter in pride structuring from time to time which far-reaching impact on world economy. Iran imagines that increase in supply of oil has led to price fall in the world market and the Saudi allowed it to happen despite Iran’s protest.
Recent terrorist strike on the Saudi border post facing the Iraqi province of Anbar is of serious consequences being the first of its kind on the territory of Saudi Kingdom. It should force Riyadh into a profound rethink of its regional strategies imbued with the rivalries involving Iran. This can become catalyst in forging regional cooperation between the two old rivals into joint security collaboration against the common threat. Such a rethink, actually hinted at by the former Iranian President Ahmadinejad during his first ever participation in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in 2011. But Iran’s dogged determination of going nuclear will remain major obstacle in the way of regional security collaboration between the two most influential countries in the region
• Associate Professor Center of Central Asian Studies University of Kashmir. India