Saudis extend Iran antagonism to trade sphere 

July 17, 2017

TEHRAN – As Iran strives to reap a bonanza from an international nuclear deal with world powers, Saudi Arabia is intervening in regional markets to dent the efforts, an Iranian economy official said.  

“Due to regional conflicts, Saudi Arabia tries to swing the balance in Iran-dominated markets in its favor by injecting money into these markets,” the Donyaye Eghtesad daily quoted Mohammad Reza Ansari, a trustee member of the International Consultants and Contractors Association of Iran (ICCA), as saying. 

“Because Saudi Arabia lacks technical and engineering capabilities, they try to fight us with money,” Ansari added. 

It is under the Saudis’ sway that certain Iraqi ministries are reluctant to enter partnership with Iranian engineering firms. 

“It is not clear yet why certain Iraqi ministries do not agree with the activity of Iranian firms in the country,” he said, urging “political negotiations” with Baghdad to catalyze the process. 

This is while the Iraqi government, due to financial crunches, has not been responsive to 48 Iranian firms who want to settle the bill, Ansari explained. 

Iran was the first country to rush to the aid of Iraq as Islamic State militancy got the country off guard in 2014, ravaging through nearly two-third of the Iraqi territory. 

Some link the surprise visit of the Saudi Arabian foreign minister to Iraq in February 2017 to Riyadh's concerns over increasing Iranian sway in the country.

Adel al-Jubeir's surprise trip marked the first official visit by a Saudi foreign minister since 1990, and the first high-level visit since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

As arch-rivals in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Iran have had no political relations for more than one year now, and support rival groups in Syria’s conflict. 

Saudi Arabia particularly showed animosity toward the nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers, including the U.S., in 2015, which made it possible for Tehran to re-engage with global economy as it agreed to scale down its nuclear program. 

Saudis believe lifting sanctions put an end to Iran’s isolation, leaving it with more leeway to pursue her hegemonic ambitions, what Iran rules out as “illusionary”.  

Speaking at an annual retreat of "mediators and peace process actors" in Oslo, Norway, in June, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry revealed regional countries’ mal intension toward Iran and the deal. 

"Leaders in the region were saying to me personally, and to the president, President Obama, you should bomb these guys (Iranians)," Kerry said.  

Also, leaked U.S. diplomatic cables in 2010 indicated that then-King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had repeatedly urged the U.S. to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear program. 

The Saudi king was recorded as having "frequently exhorted the U.S. to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons programme", one cable stated.

AK/PA 

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