Iran: Friendly Interview with Crown Prince Shows Saudi Arabia Lost Yemen War

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 23, 2018. - Saudi Arabia is hosting the key investment summit overshadowed by the killing of critic Jamal Khashoggi that has prompted a wave of policymakers and corporate giants to …
FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty

Iranian officials and state media on Friday interpreted conciliatory remarks from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) in an interview on Tuesday as proof the Saudis realize their intervention in Yemen was a failure, and have abandoned any hopes of defeating Iran in a struggle for regional authority.

MBS said Tuesday that he wants “a good and distinguished relationship with Iran.” He referred to the Yemeni civil war as a “crisis” and hoped the Iran-backed Houthi insurgents would “agree to a ceasefire and sitting on the negotiating table [sic].”

Iran’s state-run PressTV on Friday quoted California State University professor emeritus Beau Grosscup suggesting the Saudis are looking for an exit from Yemen — which PressTV portrayed them as unreasonably attacking in 2015 to “reinstall” its “Riyadh-friendly” elected government — because the new American administration is no longer willing to back their intervention.

“Asked whether the kingdom’s failure in its war on Yemen is tied to its attempt to broker rapprochement with Iran, the professor said since Iran is a major player opposing the Saudi war on Yemen and the US support for the war is wavering, the Saudis see rapprochement or the effort at a new relationship with Iran as in their national interest,” PressTV wrote.

Grosscup added Riyadh should drop any conditions for rapprochement with Iran.

“If insisted upon, they will doom the peace effort, but will have the advantage to the U.S.-Israeli-Saudi alliance of supporting the allegation that Iran is still the aggressor,” he said.

This was evidently meant as Tehran-friendly pushback to MBS saying Iran must abandon “certain negative behaviors,” such as “their nuclear program, their support of illegal militias in some countries in the region, or their ballistic missile program.”

PressTV used Grosscup’s remarks to portray Saudi Arabia as a “pariah” state that has never been properly chastised by the U.S. for its “transgressions,” and is now fumbling to shed its negative image by “posturing itself as a ‘peacemaker’ in the Middle East.”

Another PressTV article on Friday quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh welcoming the “change in Saudi Arabia’s tone.”

PressTV said it was time for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to accept that Iran’s Islamic Republic is the “powerhouse” and great peacemaker of the Middle East:

The Islamic Republic has changelessly spurned any claims aimed at branding it with regional interference or tarnishing its nuclear activities.

It has routinely underlined that its peaceful nuclear program was neither geared towards any malign purposes, and nor was anybody’s concern other than Tehran itself.

The Islamic Republic has similarly been standing up to the kingdom’s incessant and continual claims alleging that it backs any regional fighting force.

Instead, Iranian officials have been urging Saudi Arabia to stop meddling in the regional countries’ affairs and put an end to the years-long Riyadh-led war on its impoverished southern neighbor Yemen.

Foreign Policy (FP) on Thursday proposed a similar basic concept, without the Iranian triumphalism and absurd posturing as a peacemaker: MBS may have changed his tone about Iran because the Saudis are no longer confident of unflagging support from Washington.

“Contrary to the doomsday predictions of Washington’s foreign-policy establishment, chaos has not been unleashed by the United States’ pending military withdrawals from the region. Instead, regional diplomacy has broken out,” FP argued, pointing to a recently-revealed flurry of secret negotiations between Iran, and Jordan, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates in addition to Saudi Arabia over topics such as Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon.

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