Saudi Arabia ‘seeks to avert war, ready to respond with force.’ In light of current events, Saudi Arabia claims that it does not want conflict or war in the region. With that said, the country is fully prepared and willing to respond to violence with violence. This stance comes following attacks on Saudi oil tankers and pumping stations, which are claimed to have been committed by Iran. These allegations, presented by Saudi Arabia and the United States, have been firmly denied by Iranian officials. Iran has released statements similar to that of Saudi Arabia regarding their desire to avoid a war. Tensions in the region are always high, although they have been rising more as of late. If war breaks out, the fragile region is likely to become far more unstable. There is also the possibility that a war would result in a new or worsened US-Iran conflict. Despite the lack of trust and preparedness for war on both sides, Saudi King Salman has called for emergency Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meetings to take place.
According to Al Jazeera, Saudi officials have stated that “the kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want a war in the region nor does it seek that.” Although they make this claim, Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, also noted that “in the event the other side chooses war, the kingdom will respond with all force and determination, and it will defend itself and its interests.” Given that al-Jubeir also stated that “we want peace and stability in the region but we will not sit on our hands in light of the continuing Iranian attack,” it is difficult to believe that Saudi Arabia is not in a vengeful mindset regarding Iran. Iranian officials seem to be saying virtually the same thing, with Major General Hossein Salami stating that “we are not pursuing war but we are also not afraid of war.” US government officials believe that either the Houthi or Iraqi Shia militia groups, supported by the Iranian government, conducted the attacks on the Saudi oil tankers and pumping stations.
For two countries claiming to be against a war in the region, both are preparing for conflict at an alarming rate. Recently, President Donald Trump agreed to sell $8 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia. Preparation aside, both Saudi Arabia and Iran appear concerningly willing to participate in heightened regional conflict. With the Arab Spring acting as a recent catalyst, the region has been plagued by violence; violence that must come to an end in order for the region and the world to achieve greater stability. The fact that Iran and Saudi Arabia are both announcing that they will engage in war if the other instigates it suggests that they are both attempting to preemptively shift the blame away from themselves. This type of behavior does not foster peace. Rather, mutual agreements with a system of checks and balances allows for global moves towards collective peace. One positive aspect of this situation is the fact that emergency GCC meetings are to take place. Assuming everyone goes into these negotiations with the intention of fostering peace and increasing stability, violence could be prevented for now. Not only could these talks avert violence, they could also serve as a precedent for non-violent conflict resolution for years to come.
With tensions growing between Saudi Arabia and Iran, uncertainty is also mounting on the larger geopolitical level. Although the attacks on Saudi oil operations are condemned, resorting to further violence will not solve any underlying problems. It will only result in the further loss of life for Saudis, Iranians, Americans, and the citizens of any other country that gets involved. Given the history of war in the Middle East, it is likely that a war would involve many international players trying to protect their own interests both monetarily and in terms of future alliance security. The Middle East has been a hotspot for violence and, therefore, must be a priority for the implementation of non-violent conflict resolution. Should the international community see the region default back to war, once again, it will only promote the idea that countries should get militarily involved and instill greater violence. As such, should the international community see the GCC talks result in peaceful resolution, other countries would likely become less willing to promote unnecessary violence.