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Title: Between conflict and rapprochement: the development of Saudi-Iranian relations since 1989
Author: Alsultan, Fahad Mohammad
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis explores the dynamics of bilateral relations from the 19905 forward between two of the most influential countries and long-time rivals in the Gulf region Saudi Arabia and Iran. Although their relations fluctuated over the period under study, with the fewest tensions during the Khatami presidency and the most turbulence under current incumbent Ahmadinejad; however, the two countries' relations have never again experienced the animosity of the early 19805. Indeed, this period is characterised by the two countries' commitment to enhance their bilateral relations. This thesis therefore answers the question of why and how the two countries were able to normalise their relations, despite several disagreements and conflicts. Drawing on insights from the FPA approach, this research pays specific attention to FPDM and the characteristics of individual leaders in the two countries. It is argued that, in contrast to Saudi Arabia, a commonly acknowledged rule or a broker for resolving inter-elite conflicts over foreign policy positions is absent in Iran, and this has led to opposing views regarding the country's bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia. Given the nature of FPDM in Iran, the efforts of the pragmatist and reformist factions in pursuing friendly relations with Saudi Arabia were often disturbed by the actions of their radical and conservative opponents who employed less traditional behaviours, such as distributing adverse ideological propaganda or committing acts of terrorism, to damage relations. This thesis also uses broader IR theories to explain the substantial developments in the regional balance of power after the Second Gulf War, September 11, 2001 and the invasion of Iraq. It is argued that with the decline of Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia became the dominant rivals in the region. In such, both countries extended their influence over Iraq and the Arab East. The two countries engaged in a protracted and low- intensity proxy conflict that presented minimal risks for each side. The USA in the region made this rivalry more complicated, and in such, the animosity between Iran and the USA has often overshadowed Iran's rivalry with Saudi Arabia. Paradoxically, this has locked Iran into its rivalry 'With Saudi Arabia, while making it virtually impossible to win.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available