A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, August 8, 2011

Whitaker on Saudi Motives

 Brian Whitaker at The Guardian has a somewhat different take on the message that Saudi Arabia is sending Syria:
Which brings us to Syria and the question of Saudi intentions there. King Abdullah's call for swift reform and an end to the killings is unlikely to be heeded, but perhaps it is not meant to be. Perhaps it's meant to do nothing more than distance Saudi Arabia from the Assad regime, in preparation for its fall.

Saudi Arabia has no interest in promoting democracy or human rights in Syria; it does have an interest in promoting Sunni Muslim influence and combating Shia influence (as embodied at the international level by Iran). Considering the Assad regime's ties with Iran, this suggests a motive for Saudi Arabia to become involved now – in the hope of driving a wedge between Iran and a post-Assad Syria.
I think Iran certainly plays a role in most Saudi decisions, but a realization that Asad is alienating most of the world is likely to play a role as well.

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