Iraq militant push shrinks scope for Saudi-Iran détente

Iraq militant push shrinks scope for Saudi-Iran détente
# 13 June 2014 22:40 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. This week's advance by Sunni insurgents in Iraq provides a powerful argument for why Iran and Saudi Arabia should bury their Cold War-style feud, but is nonetheless likely to set back detente between the Gulf's dominant Sunni and Shi'ite powers, APA reports quoting Reuters.

After decades of often overt Saudi-Iranian hostility that polarized the Middle East - and three years of proxy war in Syria - the Sunni monarchy and Shi'ite revolutionary state had gingerly begun in recent months to explore ways to reach out.

Saudi Arabia announced in May it had invited Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif to make a rare visit. Early this month, the emir of Kuwait - a Sunni monarch and close Saudi ally - made the first visit to Iran by a Kuwaiti head of state since the 1979 Iranian revolution. He met Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

With Syria's civil war stalemated, unrest spreading across the region and Iran seeking a nuclear deal with the West, Tehran and Riyadh have reasons to seek a way to cooperate, as they have occasionally in the past. Diplomats say that at very least they could be looking for a way to avoid making the situation in the region worse.

This week's lightning advance across Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) reinforces the argument for a rapprochement: Tehran and Riyadh both share the fear that Iraq could disintegrate into a sectarian bloodbath dangerous to all.

But in the short term, ISIL's advance is likely to raise suspicions, which will only make any thaw more difficult.

"The Saudi-Iran rapprochement must now be on hold," Jamal Khashoggi, head of a television news station owned by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, told Reuters.

#
#

THE OPERATION IS BEING PERFORMED