Since the beginning of the popular uprisings began to spread across the Arab world in 2011, Saudi Arabia felt its foundations shake. During this time, the political and security landscape of the Middle East underwent massive changes but could not bring representative government in the region. At its most vulnerable point, it watched as the US withdrew support from longtime ally Hosni Mubarak and choked as it saw anti-regime demonstrations building in neighboring Bahrain. Seeing Iran’s hand behind a legitimate popular opposition movement, Saudi Arabia sent tanks across its border towards Bahrain to crush the uprising and to prevent Iran from establishing itself on Saudi Arabia’s eastern border.
This regional political dynamics provided Iran with an unprecedented opportunity to boost its strategic presence in the Arab world. Indeed, Tehran has exploited every crisis in the Arab world to its advantage and to gain a foothold in the region. In order to effectively tackle these apparently never-ending troubles, a fresh approach “Saudi Encirclement” was very much required by Iran. The ongoing Saudi Arabia-led military campaign in Yemen heralds the beginning of that strategy to confront all the issues head-on. As the two countries continue to train, finance and equip rival militants in the Syrian civil war, and to support opposing sides in Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon and Yemen, fears have been raised about where this now-militarized regional rivalry could go?
This regional rivalry would absolutely escalate into a wider conflagration in the Middle East. It could be a new opening for the terrorist which is already has a base for AQAP (Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula) and a new bone of contention among the power countries to polarize the region for their interests. US role in the Arab World politics is dangerous to Iran and Saudi both, started nuclear Talks with Iran to minimize the trust deficit gap and collectively resist against the self-styled ISIS orthodox in Iraq. By supporting Saudi-led strikes in Yemen would lead Saudi and Iranian proxy to further polarization in ongoing conflict.
This regional Saudi and Iranian proxy in the name of sectarian fault lines would fuelled it which could bring another Internal Chaos Verging on Civil War in the poor, populous and republican country having borders of 1500 mile with Saudi Arabia and had already fought wars in 1932 which resulted into ceding some ethnically Yemeni territory to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia always resorts to using military means if and when necessary to prevent an imbalance in the regional balance of power. It has undermined the rival regional players and changes regimes with militarized force involving other like minded states across the world. The same strategy could not be seen currently at work in Yemen which Riyadh put forward a formidable coalition with one objective: To reverse the gains of the Houthis and to hit them hard so that they understand that their actions will not be tolerated and that they have to carry on Saudi Monarch designed regimes. This “Regime Changing Approach” across the Arab World would be self-destructive and vulnerable for Saudi Arabia itself.
If Saudi Arabia genuinely wants to undercut Iran’s influence in the Middle East, it must acknowledge and address the pain and suffering of marginalized groups across the region. Giving them their rights, support their political power-sharing regimes based on democracy with an open Iranian understanding and bringing them to the negotiating table is the best way to insulate them from implicit sphere of influence. This backing and supporting militarized groups across the Middle East would further bring more bloodshed without enough gains.