The most important reason for changes in Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy is the crown prince’s ambitions and inexperience in governing as well as ignoring the realities of the country’s political environment.
The illegal invasion of Yemen, widespread intervention in the domestic affairs of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Libya as well as cutting ties with Qatar are among obvious effects of the aggressive approach adopted by Saudi Arabia.
The unprecedented strain in Riyadh’s ties with Iran and extensive effort to apply direct or indirect pressure on the Islamic Republic are the measures that can be considered as the crown prince’s foreign policy achievement.
After nearly six years of following such an approach, not only no new achievement has emerged, but also the country has faced the burdensome economic, security and political costs.
Being caught in the Yemeni quagmire coupled with failure in implementing its policies in Syria and Iraq, which were being pursued through financial and intelligence support for the Takfiri terrorist groups are the effects of the aggressive approach. The inept foreign policy has resulted in more debacles, such as the scandal of arresting Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri while in Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s successful resistance in face of widespread pressure by Riyadh.
In recent months, Saudi Arabia have made many efforts to reduce the problems caused its aggressive foreign policy approach.
In this regard, Riyadh has taken some actions. For example, it has taken steps to resolve disputes with Qatar and attempting to get closer to the Yemeni Houthis in order to reach a peace agreement.
Although Saudi Arabia has been trying to review its previous aggressive approaches, there are numerous evidence that the country is seeking to interfere in the regional states’ domestic affairs and dictate its political will through soft and less costly methods.
Recent events in Lebanon and Iraq that led to political and security problems along with efforts by the Saudi-affiliated media such as Iran International TV and the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV to exploit the recent popular protests in Iran are just a few examples of the Saudi interventionist approach.
Riyadh must learn lessons from the consequences of the aggressive policy toward the countries in the region and of enormous economic and security losses. Saudi Arabia should be aware that pursuing previous policies with tactical changes will also result in unpredictable costs for the country.