A Saudi murder becomes a gift to Iran

A Saudi murder becomes a gift to Iran

Vali Nasr writes:

From the start, the Trump administration thought it could rein in Iran’s regional influence by forging a close partnership with Saudi Arabia’s young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. But a series of heavy-handed Saudi missteps, culminating in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, have backfired, leaving Iran with much more room for strategic initiatives.

Relying on Saudi Arabia to contain Iran was always questionable. Saudi Arabia has never been truly successful at rolling back Iran’s regional presence, and in recent years Iran’s influence in the region has only grown. For example, Saudi Arabia has for all practical purposes washed its hands of Syria, leaving it to the United States to deal with Iran and the endgame of that conflict.

The greatest missteps started in 2015 with the ill-conceived war in Yemen, followed last year by a blockade that failed to ostracize Qatar and then a weekslong detention of the prime minister of Lebanon that failed to lessen his reliance on Hezbollah. All were clumsy attempts to make other Arabs afraid to deal with Iran and its allies. All had the opposite effect, with the region’s principal players — America’s friends among them — seeing Saudi Arabia as a greater menace than Iran. [Continue reading…]

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