Ahmadinejad and King Abdullah
Ahmadinejad and King Abdullah Israel news photo montage

Shiite Iran and Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, historically not on the best of terms, are making overtures towards each other. Iran’s Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday that disagreements and differences between the two countries “merely serve the interests of the Zionist regime and enemies of the region and the Muslim world.”

The two countries, separated by Iraq and the Persian Gulf (in northwest-southeast order), were at major loggerheads during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980’s and shortly afterwards. Relations have gradually thawed since then, however – though Saudi Arabia has reason to fear that Iran’s emerging nuclear power could be used against it.

Saudi Arabian Fears Iranian Nukes

In fact, Saudi Arabia has given tacit approval to a unilateral Israeli strike against Iran. The London Times reported last month that it is common knowledge in Saudi Arabian defense circles that the Saudis have given permission for Israeli bombers to pass over the kingdom on their way to Iran and they will look the other way.

Despite this, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast told reporters that conditions are now ripe for expanding and boosting ties and cooperation with Saudi Arabia. "Iran and Saudi Arabia are two major countries of the region, with very high potentials for cooperation," he said.

Just this past Saturday, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal told a French daily that Iran "deserves" to be treated as a leading force in the Middle East.

"The ground is now prepared for promoting [our mutual] relations to the highest level possible," the Iranian spokesman said.

Iran’s desire for a rapprochement with Saudi Arabia comes as the United States takes a tougher line against Iran and Russia declines to send it missile-to-air defense systems.

On the other hand, Iran took a similar position nearly a year ago, when Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that Iranian and Saudi leaders are determined to create proper ties between them. The two “have various goals and prospects at the bilateral, regional and international levels, although they have different viewpoints in some regional issues," he said at the time.

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