Saudi Arabia alarmed, in private, at Iran’s sanctions relief

Saudi officials have said little in public, but they fear the end of sanctions on Iran could boost what they see as its subversive activities in the Middle East while also enriching a diverse economy that the oil-dependent kingdom views as a major competitor for regional influence.


Saudi-Iranian political rivalry has aggravated tumult across the Middle East for years, but has escalated in recent months as Riyadh’s new rulers have taken a harder line and as the nuclear deal has relieved pressure on Tehran.


Iran’s international rehabilitation also opens the prospect of economic rivalry, with Saudi Arabia facing not only a fellow oil producer in an era of oversupply and low prices, but also a more self-reliant and multi-skilled economy.


Even without public pronouncements, Riyadh’s private consternation could be discerned in the pages of semi-official media and comments by influential clerics.


The main cartoon in al-Watan daily simply showed a pencil broken mid-way through writing the word “peace,” while an opinion piece underneath it asked “Will Iran change after the nuclear deal enters implementation?” Its answer: probably not.


Saudi Arabia, a conservative Sunni Muslim monarchy, sees revolutionary Iran as the paramount threat to the Middle East’s stability, because of its support for Shi’ite militias that Riyadh says have inflamed sectarian violence and undermined Arab governments.


Read More: Saudi Arabia alarmed, in private, at Iran’s sanctions relief – Middle East – Jerusalem Post