TEHRAN - A university professor says Washington’s policy toward Saudi Arabia “has not changed and is unlikely to change” and Riyadh should not fear a reduction in tension between Iran and the United States.
“Saudi Arabia, which for the past 35 years had capitalized on U.S.-Iranian tensions, is now worried about being abandoned” but this fear is “unrealistic”, Mehran Kamrava, a professor and the director of the Center for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar, tells the Tehran Times.
Following is the text of the interview:
Q: Is there a shift in U.S. policy toward the Middle East?
A: The United States is not moving away from focusing on the Middle East. In fact, it is difficult to say that there is a discernible shift in U.S. foreign policy in any direction. A couple of points are important to keep in mind. There has been continuity in U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East, and the substance of U.S. foreign policy toward its traditional allies in the Middle East -- namely Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Qatar -- remains very much unchanged. What has changed is that the tensions between Iran and the U.S. have been reduced, and as a result Saudi Arabia, which for the past 35 years had capitalized on U.S.-Iranian tensions, is now worried about being abandoned. This is an unrealistic fear because the actual substance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship -- in billions of dollars worth of economic and military trade, and military-military cooperation -- has not changed and is unlikely to change. But the Saudis are very worried about being abandoned, and they are also worried about losing their leverage with the U.S.
Q: Can the improvement in U.S.-Iran relations affect Russia’s policy toward Tehran?
A: As for Russia, it is far too early to assume that Iran-U.S. relations have improved. The tension between them has been reduced, but relations haven't improved yet. And, at any rate, Russia welcomes a reduction of tensions and perhaps even a slightly improved relationship as that would open the way for much greater Russian investments in Iran. Any reduction in sanctions will be good for Russian companies, which are well positioned to enter the Iranian market.