Yes, most of us can relate to sports, I am all about the biscuit (NHL puck), most are about the balls, some round, some oval, yet in all this we tend to be able to connect to sports, it is almost a global thing. When it is not Chess or Go that is. As such I am keeping an open mind towards the Iran-Saudi Arabia talks. I do hope that Saudi Arabia gets the peace it is entitled to, but personally. In light of all that has transpired, I am not really optimistic that Iran will keep its word, but that is my view of the matter and at present I would be happy to be wrong.
The first issue
There are a few issues that intertwine and they are not up to Saudi Arabia, the first player is Hezbollah who has been accused a few times to give support to Houthi forces after an alleged call from General Qasem Soleimani. There are a few speculations attached to it, yet the larger stage remains. Iran directly and allegedly indirectly via Hezbollah decided to attack the citizens of Saudi Arabia and engage in a long term proxy war. This issue will resolve itself over time, yet for the tool in that conversation (Hezbollah), we might take notice of ‘Stockpiling fuel from Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah braces for state collapse’ (source: The Arab Weekly), with supporting text “The plan chimes with worries in Lebanon that people will have to rely on political factions for food and security, in the way many did in the militia days of the 1975-1990 civil war. In response to a question about Hezbollah’s plans, Leila Hatoum, an adviser to the caretaker prime minister, said the country was “in no condition to refuse aid” regardless of politics.The sources from the pro-Hezbollah camp, who declined to be named, said the plan for a potential worst-case scenario has gathered pace as an end to subsidies looms in the coming months, raising the spectre of hunger and unrest”, a stage that has one side, yet when Iran has to collapse its assistance, the stage there changes, Hezbollah will no longer be regarded as a local asset, it will be regarded as a larger national liability and that is not a good place for Hezbollah to be in. It is a win-win for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, if this part is not met, Iran will show itself to be a non-peace driven party to the world. If it does, support in Yemen toward the houthi forces becomes a non option quite soon.
The second issue
The second player in all this is Turkey, it has sided with Iran too often and they are seeing the larger impact, so I was not surprised to see the Middle East Eye give us ‘Turkey’s foreign minister to visit Saudi Arabia, a first in four years’, it is a personal view, but I reckon that they want to get ahead of the curve, kicking the one player that is vocation stability is not a good thing and the larger stage as well as the blatant openly inaccuracies and pushed mis representations regarding a journalist no one cares about (Jamal Khashoggi) will be the larger noose they need to avoid. We might think that there is a focus around “Cavusoglu is expected to make attempts to repair bilateral ties during the visit, but the closure of Turkish schools will be a top issue, sources told MEE. Last week, Turkey’s education ministry said it has been informed by the Saudi authorities that the eight schools, which have a total of 2,256 pupils, will have to close at the end of the current school year. Last month, the education ministry said there were 26 Turkish schools in Saudi Arabia”, yet I believe that this is a ruse. This minister will have some form of apology package with all kinds of considerations. Turkey has no choice, their crypto currency collapse (Thodex and Vebitcoin) with bosses running for the hills (at least one with $2,000,000,000 plus in its USB pockets) and the people angry with losing all they have is the larger setting for civic unrest to a scale they never faced before and that requires all kinds of sides to reduce pressure wherever they can and both Turkey and Iran are happy to let Hezbollah drown on its own. Yes, this is my speculation, but if you followed the news in the last two years, you would end up having similar thoughts.
The third issue
The third issue is Yemen, there is no way around it and these two players are on opposite sides. Even as the media has avoided to a larger extent to show and to report on the unacceptable acts by Houthi forces, the UN who was the target on several occasions has not and that is where Iran find itself at a much larger disadvantage. They might have options if General Qasem Soleimani had been around the last 6 months, but someone solved that problem for many and now the less experienced players have painted themselves in corners and that works to the advantage of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as well. It is more against Iran but that might be mere semantics. Here we see France24 giving us (at https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210506-saudi-walks-diplomatic-high-wire-on-iran-yemen) “Saudi Arabia’s secret talks with arch-rival Iran signal a high-wire diplomatic act as it scrambles to rein in Tehran-backed Yemeni rebels”, as I see it, if Iran wants clear resolutions of the outstanding issues in play they would have to back down to a larger extent, optionally an openly extent to denounce the Houthi forces, but that would be an unrealistic expectation. And I do not disagree when we see “The Houthis would prefer to be their own interlocutor with Saudi Arabia and will not want Iran taking their place in that,” Elana DeLozier, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told AFP”, Elana DeLozier, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy has a clear point there, but these forces will not get too much of an option when Iran walks out, when that happens before the Houthis get any talks going they might end up being on their own and that pretty much ends the Houthi options in Yemen as I see it. As such the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a lot to gain, and with Iran being on everyone’s display they have a larger chance of getting a lot done.
In all this the stage will soon change and I reckon that there was a reason that Mevlut Cavusoglu (Turkish Foreign minister) used the Schools as a reason, The Arab Weekly gives us ‘May 20 deadline to register for Ithra conference in Saudi Arabia’s Dhahran’, which is seemingly also a beautiful place to be and get some informal settings, especially as it is away from Riyadh and has the nice extra to be a setting where the Turkish schools can be discussed openly and optionally talk about a few more issues less openly. As such, If I am correct a few larger issues will be on someone’s table in August so that they might be discussed in September. I reckon that this is the time that both Hezbollah and Houthi forces have left. In 8-12 weeks Turkey might need to get baubles for Euros to avoid a much larger negative national setting and I reckon they are willing to sell a few issues down the river for their own good. It is a personal speculated vision, but I feel that I might be onto something here, Iran will try to avoid making quick decisions, which makes perfect sense, so Turkey needs to get ahead of ending up being the piggy in the middle chasing after the ball and the goods. If Iran gives in too soon Turkey will end up holding the bag and in either scenario Hezbollah will merely forfeit whatever it thought it had in the first place, and there ‘thought they had’ was the operative part in all this and the Houthi forces merely lose. Optionally they will lose twice, because they made enemies of the local population all over the place as well and without Iranian funding these people will be running for the hills all whilst they know that everyone in Yemen will be out to get them.
Game, set and match for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which comes with a dose of highly needed stability as well. And Iran? That leaves us out in the open, the people might accept a few parts, but the Nuclear deals are still there and Iran is delusional to think that Saudi Arabia (or Israel for that matter) will allow them to continue on the nuclear path they are.