New realities to enable Armenia and Saudi Arabia to establish close ties, says expert
YEREVAN, JUNE 13, ARMENPRESS. Relations with Saudi Arabia are important both politically and economically and therefore Armenia should display serious consistency in establishing and developing close ties with Riyadh, especially in conditions of new positive realities that will contribute to beneficial partnership, PhD, orientalist and expert on Arabic studies, historian Armen Petrosyan told ARMENPRESS.
“Saudi Arabia is one of the most influential players in the Middle East and generally the Arab-Muslim world, and a key actor aspiring for leadership in several levels at once. Riyadh is participating in the race of solving various regional issues with its competitors in this very logic, thus, not having close ties with such a country is a serious shortcoming in terms of advancing our interests in the Middle East,” Petrosyan said.
Armen Petrosyan argues that after the 2020 Nagorno Karabakh War, in the context of the existing realities in South Caucasus, the Armenia-Azerbaijan and Armenia-Turkey normalization processes, as well as the efforts for resolving the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, are having a side effect on Saudi Arabia’s policy in our region, because for many decades Azerbaijan, in collaboration with Turkey, was trying to misrepresent the Nagorno Karabakh conflict as a religious conflict in an attempt to develop some support in the Arab-Muslim world.
“The positive shifts, naturally, enable the countries who were avoiding establishing relations with Armenia due to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict to change their position now. The future partnership between Armenia and Saudi Arabia is viewed in this very context,” Petrosyan said.
The expert on Arabic studies said that the next important factor is Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud’s policy seeking to enhance his country’s influence in various platforms at once. First, to achieve leading positions in IT, as well as the restoration of political relations with countries that would contribute to increasing its own image. Armenia is no longer a contentious direction for Saudi Arabia in conditions of the new realities in South Caucasus, according to Petrosyan.
He recalled the attempts to normalize ties, notably the UAE and Egypt-mediated efforts to establish mutual ties, as well as Fourth President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian’s visit to Saudi Arabia.
“The other important fact is the normalization of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, because Iran and Turkey have been Saudi Arabia’s competitors for decades. Iran was always sensitive to the strengthening of its competitor’s positions or development of ties in neighboring countries, until the normalization process between Iran and Saudi Arabia began in March of this year, the restoration of the embassies and consulates,” Petrosyan said.
Although the ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia aren’t fully restored yet, the process itself is a positive reality, the expert said. Thus, the use of the Iranian platform can’t be ruled out, and if such an opportunity exists then it shouldn’t be ignored.
“For example, the Armenian Ambassador to Iran could hint during his meetings at the foreign ministry that Iran’s mediation would be desirable in the Armenia-Saudi Arabia normalization process. Such a gesture by Iran could positively impact the establishment of bilateral and multilateral ties,” Petrosyan added.