Saudi-Iranian Détente

August 21, 2017 Asia , Middle East , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS

Reuters photo



Sami Jamil Jadallah


The news that there is some kind of “rapprochement” between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran must be welcoming for all Muslims and Arabs. These two countries are the ones with the moral and political authority to set the path to peace and extinguish all the regional conflicts and wars going in Yemen, Syria, certainly in Iraq, and Bahrain. Without these two countries reconciling their personal and political differences Muslims all over the world are at risk. Both take full responsibilities for peace or war. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman can emerge as the leader who brings about peace, prosperity and development or bring about chaos and conflict. I modified this essay which I wrote back in January, 2015 to fit the time. What I said then remains true today.

America — with divided loyalties between America and Israel, and with national priorities taking a back seat to narrow political ideologies — is not in a position to solve the Middle East problems by choice and design.

In fact, America is the driving force in the continued conflicts, especially the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Israeli occupation of Palestine is an internal American domestic issue, rather than an international one, and is driven by Congress and AIPAC.

It is time for the Arab and Muslim worlds to wake up and face the ugly truth that America is not the Mecca for Muslims and Arabs to come to solve their problems and conflicts. Domestic considerations rather than national interests continue to drive U.S. policies in the Middle East. It is up to the Muslims and Arabs to solve their own conflicts, their own issues, their ills, their political and sectarian divisions and stop wasting their wealth on weapons and arms and invest these hundreds of billions in building and development.

The answers to the conflicts that have afflicted and continue to afflict people and nations in both the Arab and Muslim worlds in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain, do not lie in Washington, but in Riyadh and Tehran. Two regional powers (political and religious) neighbors that need to come to term with their own duties and obligations toward the people in the region and exercise their power and wisdom in the service of peace and stability.

It is time for the leadership of these two key nations to sit down and work hand-in-hand solving one conflict after another. If there is a will, there is a way.

The ascension to the throne by King Salman, with his bold step of appointing the second generation of Al-Saud to key positions in government is a first step that should lead to even bolder steps on the international level.

A Saudi-Iranian détente is a good first step toward resolving many of the disputes that are consuming people and destroying wealth and nations in the Middle East. With many of their regional conflicts solved, Saudi and Iranian leadership could give their attention to solving their own chronic problems of high unemployment and other social issues.

Like they say, it takes two to tango, so Iranian and Saudi Arabia leadership, King Salman and President Rouhani, for the sake of hundreds of millions whose future is at stake, must exercise the needed leadership.

For the sake of millions in exile and in refugee camps; for the sake of the thousands dying every day; for the sake of cities being destroyed beyond recognition; for the sake of the dead, the dying and the hardly living; the leadership of these two key nations, must take the initiative for “rapprochement,” leaving behind sectarian and geopolitical interests and begin to work on a grander scale for the common good.

Such détente will not be easy, given the power and influence of both Saudi and Iranian religious “establishments” — that for the sake of “Umma” must step aside and allow the political leadership to commit themselves — and work together hand in hand and within 6 months to solve regional conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Bahrain. They can do it, and there are no other choices but to do it.

Washington, Moscow, Peking, Paris and Berlin are not the answer… Tehran and Riyadh are the place to start solving these regional conflicts. Tehran and Riyadh should be the “Axis of Good.”


While the Iranian nuclear program is a source of fear and apprehension in all Arab Gulf countries, the onus is on the Islamic Republic of Iran to set these fears aside as a first step toward this much-awaited détente. Iran should initiate its own “nuclear discussions” with its neighbors in the region, no different from its own discussions with the Group of 5+1.

With good will from both sides, Saudi Arabia and Iran can work and should work together and defuse the political and sectarian conflicts that so far have cost hundreds of thousands of lives, cost hundred of billions, and rendered nations like Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya failed nations.

Without a concerted effort for peace, there are no assurances these regional conflicts will not spill over to both Iran and Saudi Arabia, endangering these nations as well.

Whether we like to admit it or not, there is a cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia that is translating to hot wars in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and certainly in Yemen.

It is time to give peace and prosperity a chance. The time is now — not tomorrow — for a Saudi-Iranian détente. Once this détente is in place, other regional powers such as Turkey, Egypt and UAE can be invited to solidify the process of working for the future, initiating an Islamic Renaissance. There is no reason not to make these overtures! As we expect Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to choose “détente, we also expect hardliners in Iran to stop inciting conflict to suit their personal and political interests.






Sami Jamil Jadallah

Sami Jamil Jadallah, is a Palestinian-America, a Veteran of the US Army (66-66) he holds a BA (72), MPA/School of Public and Environmental Affairs and Doctor of Jurisprudence (77) from Indiana University.

With over 35 years of international legal and business experience with wide range of responsibilities from legal associate as on the major Wall Street law firm, to general counsel for one the largest civil and electro-mechanical construction company in Saudi Arabia, to director of a defense and marketing company in Switzerland to owner representative of major hotel project in Tangier to managing director of a major airline agency in Morocco and founder, trustee and managing director of a major conservation foundation in Morocco.

Sami also has experience with technology holder of two US patents for the use of smart card technology for tracking operation and maintenance of machine and founder of a start up company and continue to consult for international organizations and clients.

Sami is engaged on Pro-Bono work for the New Arab Foundation and its initiative the Arab Peace Corps and the Veterans Housing & Education Foundation, both are not for profit, tax-exempt organization. He lives in Fairfax, VA.

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