Two superpowers, two reliable Islamic countries, both rich in terms of military power and economic wealth together holding one fourth of the entire global oil reserves have been headlining the news. Iran and Saudi Arabia like the rest of the world are at odds, due to the recent crisis resulting from the outcome of the mass execution of 47 people by the kingdom. The cause of the tension between these two countries was the execution of Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr also known as “Ayatollah” who belonged to the 15% Shia minority of Saudi Arabia that number 30 million in population.
The Shia cleric’s execution immediately inflamed fury in Iran and many people poured out into the streets to protest and attacked the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. President Rouhani, who was extremely disturbed by the situation, condemned the violent acts to the diplomatic missions by calling them illegal and wrong moves. He ordered to initiate legal actions against the police officers who have defected during the event as well as the attackers. Consequently, Saudi Arabia severed all its ties with Iran and countries like Bahrain and Sudan followed. The United Arab Emirates joined them by reducing their diplomatic relations to the attaché level.
---Both sides should let bygones be bygones and move on---
It certainly is a disturbing situation not only for the countries involved but also for the other regional players. An unwanted occurrence took place and nobody can deny it. However, the most sensible behavior to embrace would be to forget the incident and even freeze it for at least one year and not take it into consideration before that time comes. It should be re-considered when both sides could assess their relations rationally rather than emotionally, the tension would easily calm down. Can the region handle another tension or crisis given that the conflicts that have spread all over? Turkey is going through a similar situation with Russia and since none of the parties intend to retreat and examine the ties with a rational mind deprived of rage and anger, the strained relations seem to continue which have already resulted in suffering of both peoples. Both parties acted out of anger without waiting patiently to make a rational evaluation. If they had waited for a while, everything would have been solved with tranquility. As a result, things have spun out of control.
Turkey tried to justify itself by saying what they have done is legal in the jet crisis, but I would personally never approve of any action that would jeopardize the life of even one person. We should let bygones be bygones. There is goodness in everything since God creates every event. As for the recent occurrence, it is completely unreasonable to give consent to both parties with regards to either execution or the attack on the embassies. However, both sides should consider the event as an accident, even though it was very upsetting, and move on. During times when such stressful incidents occur, we usually go through a burst of rage, loss of insight and foresight and defect in consideration with reason. Keeping this in mind, they should never lose their moderation. It is wrong to use the mentality of retaliation as it always brings disasters. For example, they should not say 50 is not enough, let it make it 50 thousand because 50 thousand will lead to 500 thousand and then 500 thousand up to 5 million in the blink of an eye.
---The possible consequences if tension rises---
The Islamic world is already burning with flames and exacerbating the diplomatic ties would only benefit those who plan to divide the Islamic world into pieces. Let us not play into their hands and rather do the opposite to end this plan to split every one immediately. Escalating the tension would have traumatizing effects for the region more than it can bear. A serious sectarian conflict may again rise after a series of positive developments between these two countries, both partaking in peace talks for Syria and generating a consent agreement for Yemen. Besides, Saudi Arabia re-opening its Baghdad Embassy at the beginning of this year after 25 years was quite a pleasant move in terms of smoothing over the sectarian rift in the region amidst bloodshed. If ties get more complicated with these countries, it may weaken the formation of a new government in Lebanon and possibility of peace building in Syria in the upcoming conference following the UN Security Council Resolution of December 18. Unquestionably, the war in Yemen, which is already in dire straits, will be negatively affected.
---The responsibility of leaders to ease the situation---
Turkey has played significant roles in terms of being a mediator historically but given the latest conflicts in the region and its isolated position it has been prevented to keep its role. However, having friendly relations with both countries despite some political differences makes Turkey the ideal country to make reconciliation. It is important for Turkey not to take sides and stand at equal distance from both parties. Turkish President should invite their representatives to Istanbul to sit at a table to have a solution. Turkey should call both parties to sobriety. It is a good news Russia offered to be a mediator. The involved parties should listen to such offers and not put their political differences as obstacles. It would be becoming on the U.S. that made a nuclear deal with Iran and is also a close ally of the Saudis to work to better the situation instead of staying neutral. Additionally, the expressions from leaders of countries like Iraq and Germany were bona fide, expressing serene temperaments are good developments.
---Divisions always bring disasters ---
Countries in the Middle East should be cognizant of the fact that being fragmented would bring havoc to the Islamic world. It is our duty to convince that this division would cause global disorder and should take the necessary precautions to avoid it altogether. To avoid this, we should first end the sectarian division since both parties believe in the same God, they relate to the same Prophet, they perform prayer in the same mosques facing the same qibla. It is a religious obligation to make reconciliation between two Muslim communities and it would be forbidden not to do so.
Adnan Oktar's piece in Tehran Times: