Analyst Advises Caution in Dealing With Riyadh

Analyst Advises Caution in Dealing With Riyadh Analyst Advises Caution in Dealing With Riyadh

A political analyst believes Tehran should proceed with caution in reacting to Saudi Arabia's latest hostile moves, saying that Iran should be careful not to play into the hands of Saudi leaders who would like to exploit heightened tensions in the region.

In an opinion piece recently published by the Iranian Diplomacy website, former diplomat Nosratollah Tajik added that the latest Saudi measures against Iran should not lead to overreaction, as Riyadh has not indicated that it is preparing for a military showdown.

Last week, the Saudi-led military coalition attacking Yemen announced it holds Iran responsible for a Yemeni missile attack on Riyadh and contended that it reserved the "right to respond" to what it claimed "amounts to an act of war" by Iran.

Saudi forces announced on Nov. 4 they had intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile near the Saudi capital Riyadh, reportedly fired from Yemen by Houthi fighters.

Riyadh, which is waging a bloody war against Yemen and has blockaded the impoverished nation, accused Tehran of supplying ballistic missiles to the Houthi forces.

Iran has denied the allegation, denouncing Saudis' announcement as "destructive and provocative".

In another development seen as part of Tehran-Riyadh cold war, Lebanese Premier Saad Hariri announced last week in a televised broadcast from Saudi Arabia that he was stepping down.

Hariri, a dual Lebanese-Saudi national with business interests in the Persian Gulf kingdom, blamed Iran and Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah for his surprise resignation, claiming Tehran had fomented "disorder and destruction" in Lebanon.

In remarks that raised concerns about the stability of Lebanon, which has cordial relations with Tehran, Hariri warned "Iran and its followers" that the Arab world would "cut off the hands that wickedly extend into it".

Tajik said the Saudi leaders are well aware of the consequences of entering into a direct confrontation with Iran and know they would not be winners of such a conflict.

"However, the House of Saud has come to the conclusion that joining hands with the US and Israel to vilify the Iranian government and spread Iranophobia would help advance its internal and foreign policies," he said.

The analyst said Saudis see themselves on the losing side in the conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, and they believe weakening Iran's status may help them avert a humiliating failure in enforcing their regional policies.

  Domestic Problems at Play  

More importantly, Tajik said the Saudi establishment sees itself in need of highlighting a [concocted] foreign threat to distract attention from internal problems and crush opposition to reform plans it considers vital for maintaining its grip on power.

Saudis have announced a string of cultural and economic reforms in recent months, including a decision to eventually allow women to drive.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has also announced a 15-year reform program that he says aims to overhaul most aspects of life in Saudi Arabia.

Separately, King Salman issued a decree last week establishing a new anti-corruption committee in the country chaired by the crown prince.

In recent days, a large number of former and incumbent Saudi officials and princes have been detained by authorities as part of the anti-graft purge.

Tajik said Iran's strong reaction to Saudi bellicosity may ease the burden of their expensive propaganda machine to justify Riyadh's anti-Iran positions and display the perceived threat posed by Iran as credible.

"We must be cautious not to play their game and avoid walking into the trap laid by Saudis," he said.


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