The leaking of cables between the US embassy in Saudi Arabia and Washington has highlighted the growing concerns in the region over Iran. The Islamic Republic has long been the cause of tension in the region and Saudi Arabia, as the largest GCC economy, has always wanted to contain the threat. The cables show that the kingdom’s leadership is keen to use the US to do this.
The disclosures will, for a short while, cause diplomats to be more careful about the opinions they air in private, but they are unlikely to do any long-term damage to the special relationship between Riyadh and Washington. Although embarrassing, the strong opinions revealed were hardly a surprise.
Far more revealing has been Tehran’s response to the cables. President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has not attempted to make any political ground from the revelations. Instead, he denounced the leaks as a plot to sow discord between Muslim nations.
It was a measured response from an usually sharp-tongued president. Whatever the motivation behind the foreign office employee who stole the embassy correspondence, it is unlikely it was for a show of unity between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Ahmedinejad’s response offers an opportunity for a renewed effort at opening dialogue. Unfortunately, the vehemence of the comments in the cables suggests the Saudi leadership is unlikely to seize upon it.