With the rise of the IS in Syria and Iraq, it seems that there is a new platform for the two countries to initiate bilateral dialogue, particularly with regards to regional security. While diplomatic cooperation over the threat posed by IS does provides a chance for improved relations between the two countries, their ideological differences are still a serious barrier to any meaningful rapprochement (The Guardian 1).
Adler (p.1) notes that the moderate approach taken by current Iranian president Rouhani has re-opened potential for improved diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, especially in comparison with his predecessor the hard-line President Mahmood Ahmedinejad. The current ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Hossein Sadegh, who officially took up residence in Riyadh in September, has a history of good rapport with the leadership in Saudi Arabia. In addition, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister also met the Deputy FM of Iran in the United States to discuss IS and the threat it poses to the Middle East. However, in spite of these talks, Shi’a-Sunni proxy wars continued over the last month, for example, with Iran sending in more Revolutionary Guards to Syria in support of President Assad, while Saudi Arabia made a pledge of additional funding for the Free Syrian Army. In addition, Saudi Arabia made a grant to the Lebanese Army of $3billion to buy military supplies from France, which has widely been interpreted as an attempt to counter the dominance of Hezbollah that is backed by Iran (Adler 1).
From Reardon’s (p.1) perspective, as far as Saudi Arabia is concerned, the regional hegemony objective pursued by Iran is a threat to the Persian Gulf’s geo-political order. The progress made by the talks between the two countries and positive statements made by their leaders in the last month are also in danger of being overshadowed by the siege laid on Sana’a in Yemen by Iranian-backed Houthi Shi’a militia. Despite signing a