12:51 GMT19 January 2021
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    The real reason behind the ongoing beef between Saudi Arabia and Iran is that Riyadh fears that the increasing role of Tehran in the region is happening at the expense of Saudi Arabia, political analyst Milad Jokar, who specialized in Middle Eastern affairs, told Sputnik France in an interview.

    Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have dramatically deteriorated following the execution of prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in Riyadh at the beginning of January.

    Relations between the leading Sunni and Shiite nations had never been warm, but the latest incident, which some believe was provoked by Riyadh, has brought tensions to a new low.

    According to Jokar, the ongoing confrontation is the result of Saudi fears, who feel threatened by the rise of Iran.

    First, Riyadh fears that sanctions against Iran will soon be removed, bringing a lot of positive international attention and boost to Tehran, the analyst explained.

    Current Saudi policies directed against Tehran and Shiites in general show Riyadh's attempts to counter the changing geopolitical shift in the Middle East which favors Iran.

    "Iran would restore its role and its natural position in the region, surpassing Saudi Arabia in population, area and natural resources," Jokar told Sputnik France.

    The factor of economy is another reason behind Riyadh's anti-Iranian move, Jokar said.

    Although in the terms of sheer volume Saudi Arabia exports more oil than Iran does, the presence of an extra 1.1 million barrels of oil from Iran would certainly bring global oil prices further down, hitting the already shattered economy of Saudi Arabia even more.

    While the Saudis threaten peace in the entire Middle East by provoking Iran, Tehran has not sought this confrontation, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in a letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.

    "We have no desire or interest in escalation of tensions in our neighborhood," Zarif said in a letter, as cited by AFP.

    At the same time, the Iranian top diplomat added that most members of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Daesh (Islamic State), al-Nusra Front are Saudi citizens or people who have been brainwashed into extremist ideology using Saudi oil money.

    Riyadh said around 2,500 Saudi citizens joined terrorist organizations in Syria and Iraq, constituting one of the largest groups of foreign recruits, according to Reuters.    


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