Saudi Arabia: foreign policy strategy changes
Material posted: Publication date: 27-03-2014

Saudi Arabia is one of the powerful States in the Middle East have faced in the Syrian issue with difficulties. Now she has declined opportunities to influence Damascus. Riyadh even declined to help terrorist groups fighting in Syria. In addition, he had begun to punish those who fought abroad. Experts believe that Saudi Arabia is very afraid of terror. She refers to the new strategy.

The failure of regional policy: who is to blame?

Riyadh recently broke the silence. Now experts are discussing the possible introduction of Saudi Arabia changes in its foreign policy. What specific steps will be taken is not specified, but are given different forecasts. Some representatives of the Syrian opposition are even saying that "the Saudis are playing a double game" (see, eg.: Conference pour la paix en Syrie: le double jeu de l'arabie Saoudite / "Atlantico", 31 January 2014).

In any case, experts agree that as the situation in Syria Saudi Arabia is gearing up for another position. As a first sign of this they point to the weakening of the position of the head of the intelligence service and the security of the country is Bandar bin Sultan (see: Asghar Yousefi. Saudi Arabia: strategy shift or personnel changes? / "IRNA", on February 28, 2014).

The fact that B. bin Sultan was engaged not only issues of security and intelligence, and the basic problems of foreign policy. The negotiations, which he led in various countries around the world and secured arrangements directly impacted the agenda of the official diplomacy of Riyadh. Now this is what has changed. It is obvious that B. bin Sultan is some kind of failure that caused the country serious consequences. For taking away a considerable part of powers of the experts are looking for precisely this point (see, eg.: Viktor Mikhin. Saudi Arabia: change foreign policy? / "New Eastern Outlook", February 28, 2014).

The Russian expert writes that during his visit in 2013 to Russia B. bin Sultan was trying to "persuade" Vladimir Putin, but failed (see: previous source). As another argument points to the collapse of the Syrian policy of Saudi Arabia. Iranian judge A. Yousefi believes that "the defeat of Bandar bin Sultan is associated with the failure of its regional policies and the risk that the country will be isolated" (see: Asghar Yousefi. The decree. article).

The Syrian newspaper "Al Watan" wrote that the main reason for the departure of the Prince from the political scene is that his position is contrary to the strategic objectives of America in the region, especially while pointing out that the harsh criticism of her by Obama. Furthermore, Moscow accused Riyadh of terrorist acts in Syria and Russia. During the talks in the Kremlin B. bin Sultan was unable to correct this situation (see: previous source).

Facts demonstrate that Bandar bin Sultan is associated with hard for Riyadh geopolitical issues. From here you can really conclude the following: "Saudi Arabia is preparing to make fundamental changes in its foreign policy. What "surprises" may this bring?

In General, analysts of the country noted that the Saudis perceived as "the most important actors in the region" (see: Dilek Yigit. Suudi Arabistan ve Katar Arasındaki Rekabetin Ortadoğu''ya Yansımaları / "Stratejik Düşünce Enstitüsü", 12 February 2014). We cannot deny the fact that in receipt of Riyadh that status played a big role Washington.

Therefore, Saudi Arabia finds itself in an ambivalent position. First, she felt as States having a decisive voice in the region. Secondly, she has always felt the "breath" of the US. All the principal geopolitical issues Riyadh should consult with Washington. It is no coincidence that after the visit of interior Minister Mohammad bin Nayef to Washington in the higher echelons of power relevant to B. bin Sultan has changed. At present time it is reported that the Syrian policy controls M. bin Nayef. This implies that America is again seriously taking over the middle East policy of Saudi Arabia.

Signs of new geopolitical course

As noted above, two factors may enable better understanding of new undertones in the foreign policy of Saudi Arabia. Evidently, Riyadh is ready to revisit its foreign policy not only at regional but also at global level. So we can expect changes in the relations not only with regional States such as Egypt, Qatar, Iran, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and the U.S., China, Russia and the EU. In this regard, to predict that Saudi Arabia may reinvigorate efforts of restoring geopolitical clout on the region. It can be argued that Riyadh would pay attention to the following points.

First of all, Saudi Arabia may try to ameliorate relations with the United States. Experience has shown that without Washington, the Saudis are not as strong. Then automatically needs to be updated the nature of relations with Israel. The fact is that in recent years, Riyadh went to tel Aviv in the Syrian and Palestinian issues for a certain confrontation. On the contrary, in relations with China has been a convergence between. In particular, expanded cooperation between the two countries in the military sphere (see: Eyup Ersoy. Çin Dış Politikasında Ortadoğu: Temkin Diplomasisi Üzerine Bir Inceleme / "Uluslararası Hukuk ve Politika", 2012, Volume 8, No. 31, pp. 37-55).

Secondly, after the Ukrainian events the question of the expansion of Riyadh its relations with Moscow is more likely to be associated with many conditions. In all likelihood, the Syrian factor here also play a major role as it has developed around Kiev tensions between the West and Russia cannot fail to have its influence on the middle East. It's difficult to imagine Saudi Arabia acting against the will of Washington and the EU.

You should consider the fact that on line Riyadh-Moscow tensions with terror. The Kremlin accuses the Saudis in organizing terrorist acts on the territory of the country. With the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is expected to be a big update this topic. And strengthening the position of Moscow on Ukraine and Syria issues may push Saudi Arabia to engage in another position. Therefore, it can be argued that while Riyadh does not take a strong stance against Russia.

Developments on China front may differ. Analyst Naser al-Tamimi characterizes the relations between the two countries as "political-strategic" but rather as "energy-economic partnership" (see: Naser Al-Tamimi. China-Saudi Arabia Relations: Economic Partnership or Strategic Alliance? HH Sheikh Nasser Al Mohammad Al Sabah Publication Series, 2012, No. 2, p. 19). But it is no secret that the official Beijing aims to gain geopolitical dividends from economic cooperation. Of course, Washington is zealously. Therefore, it can be argued that while the partnership of Saudi Arabia and China will remain in a situation of uncertainty.

Thirdly, it is possible to predict the increasing competition in Saudi Arabia with major States in the region for geopolitical influence in the region. Talk about the differences between it and Qatar (see: Dilek Yigit. The decree. article). This is more obvious in the Syrian, Iranian and Egyptian issues. For example, Qatar in Syria is strongest in the warring factions of the opposition, and Saudi Arabia are popular among political layers. Therefore, experts say that each of these States brings up his "opposition".

In relations with Iran, Riyadh is more radical and irreconcilable position. Has not ruled out the possibility of war between them. It is no coincidence that official Riyadh took the rapprochement between America and Iran as a tragedy. It is expected that henceforth the struggle between the two States for regional leadership is expected. In the issue of Turkey Saudi Arabia still shows no activity. But it is predicted that the rivalry between Riyadh and Ankara for geopolitical dominance.

All this shows that Saudi Arabia has entered a stage of transformation in all areas of its external policy that is associated with the intention to maintain its geopolitical influence in the region and is connected with certain difficulties. Riyadh – in the beginning. Whether the path chosen, successful, will soon show the processes occurring in the region.


Tags: assessment , geopolitics , Near East