Saudi-Iranian Rapprochements Are Not New: Here’s a History

By: Emir Hadzikadunic

Saudi King Abdullah urged US to end Iran's nuclear program, stating "Cut off the head of the [Iranian] snake”.

Saudis relied on US to contain Iran but failed, until March 2023 when they changed. This article explains their diplomatic history.

The article examines three periods of relatively friendly relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia since the 1920s.

Iran and Saudi Arabia's first friendly phase was limited by their threat environment in a multipolar world under UK influence.

UK dominance and shared identity with the UK reduced cross-cutting conflicts, promoting stability. Nazi Germany's attempts led to tension and trouble.

During the second phase, Iran and Saudi Arabia had a friendly alliance with the US, working together in various arenas.

Iran and Saudi Arabia were close allies in the 1960s and 1970s, supported by the US in a bipolar world order.

Iran and Saudi Arabia's fear of Soviet Union-aligned states brought them together, but Tehran's departure in 1979 caused a shift.