Saudi Foreign Policy Essay Example

IMPACT OF SAUDI FOREIGN POLICY ON REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Rationale

This research has been propelled by the Saudi foreign policy which is laid on the foundation of the country’s multifaceted aspects of history, geography, politics, economic and safety. The policy is also described by the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2011) as that which encompasses frameworks that promote neighborhood, neutral approach towards domestic affairs of other nations, a source of strength of Gulf States by strengthening relations along the Arabian Peninsula, ability to bond Arabic and Islamic nations in a bid to base their relations on a common ground, a platform for establishing friendliness with non-partisan countries, all in the realm of regional and international organizations. The policy is also modelled by Arabic, Islamic, Gulf and international spheres. Saudi Arabia is also said to be bigger than other countries, both in the Arabian Peninsula and Middle East, with rules and regulations based on the Islamic Law which is strictly adhered to. As a result, the Saudi foreign policy is said to be inspired by Islamic principles and surrounded by Arab propensities that are geared towards economic benefits (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2011).

As a nation embracing Islamic principles with total regard for Islam, Saudi foreign policy is built on the premises of protecting the interests of Islam (Embassy of Saudi Arabia 2015). According to Blanchard (2015), currently Saudi Arabia is a country through which other nations, especially the global powers, seek clues to comprehending Islamic and Arabic issues. The diplomacy of the Kingdom acts as a platform through which the crises of Islamic and Arabic descent are solved with the help of such nations as United States. For instance, US is seeking the Kingdom’s intervention in ending extremism in such neighboring countries as Yemen while upholding the human rights (Blanchard 2015). Saudi foreign policy has been used in such occasions highlighting its importance in maintaining regional balance and peace. According to the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia (2015) in Washington DC, the interventions under Saudi foreign policy help to avert and solicit mediation in case of dispute that if left unattended could result in serious negative outcomes for the entire Peninsula and Gulf regions.

The current research will determine the impact of the Saudi foreign policy with special regard to its structure, principles and tendencies. The interventions in international relations under this policy will also be addressed leading to some conclusions or generalizations. Information obtained from the study will aid the expansion of the knowledge about Saudi foreign policy and create a platform through which other research can be done on similar topics to fill any possible gaps.

Objectives

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This research will be built on the following objectives:

  • To establish the principles embedded in Saudi foreign policy;
  • To determine the impact of Saudi foreign policy on regional relations including the entire Peninsula and Gulf States;
  • Lastly, to establish the impact of Saudi foreign policy on international relations.

Literature Review

This research seeks to establish the structure and the impact of the Saudi Arabian foreign policy on regional and international relations. This section outlines the literature reviewed on Saudi foreign policy. The impact of the Kingdom’s foreign policy is embedded in the circles that form the pillars and structure of the framework. The Saudi foreign policy is modelled by Arabic, Islamic, Gulf and international principles (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2011) as discussed below.

Saudi Foreign Policy, Circle and Regional Impact

Gulf Circle. The Saudi Arabian Kingdom thrives on the foundations laid by King Abdul-Aziz, who is its founder and through whom the Gulf Circle has been established. For this reason, this Circle is considered as the major pillar of the Saudi foreign policy. The Gulf Circle centers its energy on close ties with historically motivated networks and the geographical dispensation of neighbors that connects the Gulf States together, alongside the similarities that exist in the economic and political systems of these countries. The Saudi Kingdom in partnership with the neighboring Gulf States holds beliefs in their unity, hence drawing a need to bring coordinating policies that would uphold peace, security and defense in times of great crises and battles that have erupted among them affecting their economies and peaceful coexistence (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2011).

Because of the above reasons, six leaders of the states of the Gulf region made an agreement in 1981 that led to the formation of GCC – Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf. It acts as the guide that directs how to realize cooperation that is characterized by comprehensiveness and integration to fulfill interests and aspirations of the members in public and official relations. The Gulf Circle, therefore, is an integral part of the Saudi foreign policy that lays foundations for cooperation, including political, economic, cultural, social, safety and educational aspects that affect the Gulf States. This is done in varying levels depending on the crisis at hand (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2011).

The Gulf Circle embedded in Saudi’s foreign policy is based on the following ideologies:

  • Peace in the region is dependent on the six states making up the Gulf Region and each state has its own responsibility;
  • It is a right of the Gulf States to guard their independence and security in discretion while adhering to international laws on domestic, regional and international conflicts;
  • The member state should cooperate to thwart interference on internal matters affecting these countries and be united in the face of aggression directed towards any member;
  • Cooperation in the political, economic, cultural, social, safety and educational aspects should consolidate relations of the member states;
  • The policies of the six states should be converged towards a common stance in the wake of regional and international conflicts, as the case with the Iran war of 1980-1988;
  • Pertinent and critical actions should be taken in a bid to solve all clashes mainly on borders or territories on the basis of neighborhood and brotherhood;
  • Economic cooperation should prevail in the six Gulf States through the support of policies that bring uniformity, especially on oil issues, while it is the major source of revenue for these countries (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2011).
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Saudi Foreign Policy, Circles and International Impact

Arab Circle. Saudi Arabia is an Arab Kingdom, and the realization of this fact and the similarities existing in the Gulf States have led to the inclusion of the Arab Circle in Saudi foreign policy. It was also done in view of the immense power projected by the unification of the Arab states. Saudi Arabia, six members of the Gulf Region and other Arab countries like Egypt have met and set a framework through which there would be coordination in relations on an Arab-based platform aimed at attaining both individual and joint interests. This compromise was marked by the establishment of the Arab League in March 1945 characterized by the signing of a Charter to unite Arabian countries (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2011).

Thus, the Arab Circle enshrined in Saudi foreign policy has the following principles:

  • There is an unavoidable link between the Arabic and Islamic worlds, hence Arab-based nationalism has been born. Saudi Arabia is a historical mother state of Islam as well as Arab-nationalism. Thus, there has been continuous emphasis of this fact by both King Abdul-Aziz, the founder, and subsequent heirs;
  • There is a need for unity among the six Arabian countries with an aim of serving the interests of Arabs in these and other states;
  • There is a realist perspective with regards to stability in the Arabic world, including peace, security and prevention of interference in internal matters of the Arabic countries;
  • Arabic brotherhood should always be upheld and manifested in support offered to member states (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2011).

The Kingdom’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2011) argues that it is under the Arab Circle that Saudi Arabia plays a critical role in mediating to solve both internal and regional disputes in the matters involving the Arab World. This has been the key role of the Saudi foreign policy applied in the occasions when reconciliation is crucial for ending conflicts within the Arabic countries. The Arab League led by Saudi Arabia has been immensely involved in Israel- Palestinian conflicts with numerous support for a new line of solutions to settle the disputes from the Arabic-Muslim perspective (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2011).

Islamic Circle. Saudi Arabia is an Islamic Kingdom and Islam has been on the forefront in determining the basics of Saudi foreign policy. The devotion of the Kingdom has been directed towards efforts that bring Islamic states together in belief of belonging since its inception with the use of massive resources. The Islamic Circle seeks to restore the position and honor of the Muslims. Saudi Arabia together with other Islamic countries aims to achieve more solidarity through the establishment of non-governmental and governmental organizations that are Islamic in nature including the 1962’s Muslims World League and 1969’s Organization of Islamic Conference, with the Kingdom as the headquarter. This goal is based on the solidarity of the Muslim countries which includes shared security concerns, bilateral and multilateral peace and dispute resolutions, provision of economic aid to the needy Islamic states, humanitarian aid to those affected by disasters, defense of the rights of Muslims, moral as well as material support to Islamic groups, construction of mosques and establishment of Islamic civilizations (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2011).

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Some of the objectives forming the basis of the Islamic Circle inclusion in Saudi Foreign Policy include the following:

  • Solidify the comprehensiveness of Islamic states;
  • Renew and create new doors for continued economic relations increasing the potential of acquiring interests;
  • Form a solid block for the inflow of intellectual pollutants that threaten the Islamic culture;
  • Bring solidarity and support for the Organization of Islamic Conference leading to its efficiency in tackling pertinent issues affecting the Islamic World;
  • Bring a new world order with the observation of the rights of Muslim minorities in other international countries by providing assistance according to the international law;
  • Portray the real meaning of Islam and the Sharia law by clearing the contemporary tainting of Islam as comprised of terrorism and the violation of human rights (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2011)

International Circle. Saudi Arabia efforts towards seeking international relations have been relentless. The great power of the Kingdom holds and certain other including its capital role in the Islamic and Arab Worlds interests form the basis for this goal. Saudis seek expansion in both the Islamic and Arab Worlds as well as internationally. This aim forms the ground for the inclusion of the international circle in Saudi foreign policy. The International Circle forms the Kingdom’s relations with the outside world and establishes the basis for cooperation inclined towards efficiency while avoiding consequences that threaten cultural, economic and social stabilities of the country (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2011).

Saudis were also among the founders of the United Nations back in 1945. For this reason, international peace forms the pillar through which the international clauses on this country’s foreign policy are built. The International Circle calls for transparency and impartiality in the way countries are treated politically, socially or economically. The Circle views impartiality as the only way for prosperity through which all countries will flourish and stabilize within the international realm. Saudi Arabia holds beliefs in the work of the United Nations and related organizations, especially their support of stability and prosperity of all countries, with continuous campaigns for observance of peace and international security. Saudi Arabia forms part of the bigger team of the United Nations and affiliate groups as well as other countries with respect to humanity through moral and material support (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2011).

Saudi Foreign Policy is built on certain permanent principles including:

  • Saudi Arabia is committed to the Charter of the United Nations which limits it from reacting to other nations because of its unwavering support of the international law and agreements which lay down the procedures for the international interaction with societies;
  • This country is determined to use its own wielded power to protect itself with respect to the internal matters of other nations by acting against violence. This type of violence tends to disturb international peace and security.
  • It plays an outstanding role in maintaining stability in oil markets and adapting the principle of free market economics that governs the international trade laws;
  • It respects humanitarian efforts through the provision of its foreign policy that gives room for constant support by providing aid to disaster victim and those refugees who have been displaced by internal and international wrangles (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2011).

Summary

Saudi foreign policy is built on various principles that determine the country’s regional and international relations. Saudi foreign policy seeks to incorporate Sharia law into the country’s constitution in order to increase solidarity among its citizens. The policy also observes the sovereignty of states rejecting any attempts to either interfere in internal matters or let other states interfere with Saudi Arabia. The observance of international peace and stability is also enshrined in the policy with total condemnation of terrorism, dictatorship and injustices, while eliminating the suspicion of some states of Islam being the promoter of terrorism. The Kingdom’s foreign policy respects international law therefore supporting all the charters and agreements that form the basis of international cooperation. The policy also discards global issues related to the Islamic and Arabic worlds with a clear perspective of protection of the rights of minority Muslims in some countries. The policies that reject the connection of Saudi Arabia to disputes that threaten international peace and security and the right of a country to defend itself from external interference are also included. Saudi Arabia being a great producer of oil with massive reserves presents a state that regulates oil production and brings balance and reason to the cooperation with other petroleum producing countries. Finally, there is continued involvement of the country in humanitarian services, especially related to the disaster victims and refugees displaced by war.

Methodology

The literature reviewed on Saudi foreign policy relies heavily on the structure and past projections of the smooth path towards the Kingdom’s prosperity. Saudi foreign policy has been highlighted as a framework with such key objectives as a maintaining personal security and importance through the use of its power in the Arabian Peninsula. The country aims to have a leading role in the defense of the Arabic and Muslim worlds, to provide help geared towards solidifying Islamic governments, and to sustain regional and international relations with other oil producers and consumers while still maintaining its power as a producer.

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Saudi Arabia’s recent entry into Yemen has reflected a different approach from the past foreign relations (Takeyh 2015). Recently, in most cases, peace deals were involved including the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, with the Kingdom always supporting a resolution based on peace as way of ending Arab-Israeli wrangles. The Kingdom has also been seen proposing the formation of an independent state for Palestinians who are mostly Arabs. The Kingdom’s peaceful negotiations were also seen in the past, for instance, in the formation of Arab Peace Initiative propagated by Saudi Arabia through the Arab League with a goal of ending conflicts. Saudi Arabia’s recent use of own defense forces to launch strikes in Yemen has reflected a different approach from the past regional and international relations which have been aimed towards power exertion in the Middle East (Takeyh 2015). This situation arises amid the century of overdependence on foreign empires like the United States and Great Britain that protect the Kingdom’s interests (Takeyh 2015). This move portrays a different approach towards the long-held belief in peace initiatives.

The U.S’s present relation with Saudi Arabia in Yemen demonstrates an overt picture of cooperation. The United States is believed to have provided a constant supply of intelligence reports to the Kingdom (Takeyh 2015) while it utilizes its armed forces to strike the Houthis and the loyalist of former head of the nation Abdullah Saleh (BBC News 2015). However, there have been disagreements between the U.S and the Kingdom concerning the ways to arbitrate in Syria in the wake of a civil war and concerning the negotiations in Iran. These cases raise pertinent questions concerning the current trend of Saudi foreign policy (Takeyh 2015) and the interests as well as current Kingdom’s regional relations with the U.S. including the sudden change of tactics for restoring peace, especially in the Gulf region.

This research seeks to analyze these pertinent questions by comparing the past Saudi regional and international relations and the current trends and approaches in relation to the Kingdom’s foreign policy that seems to be embracing peaceful negotiations. This research will adopt a comparative qualitative approach (Manheim et al. 2008) towards the Saudi foreign policy trying to analyze the current tactics in regional relations in Yemen, which encompass the use of military power rather than the usual peace negotiations. Moreover, the U.S.-Saudi relations which seem contrary to foreign policy processes undertaken in the past deserve special attention (Mullen 2015). The current relations are assumed to be embedded in the Kingdom’s cultural, economic, situational and environmental aspects (Manheim et al. 2008) that form the basic interests of Saudi Arabia in foreign relations.

The analysis will include the use of scholarly journals, books, website entries, news entries and current articles displaying facts (Bowen 2009) on both current and past foreign policies of Saudi Arabia in the Gulf Region. This approach will be used to gather facts to compare present and past approaches with the main purpose of highlighting or predicting the interests of the Kingdom. Therefore, this research will be a case study of Saudi Arabia narrowed down to its foreign policy in order to unravel the possible future impacts on regional and international relations. Past and present foreign relations will be compared in a bid to find solid answers to pertinent questions arising from the current trend that involves the United States. Lastly, qualitative analysis presentation will be done with clear emphasis on economic, social, cultural and political interests of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

Dissertation Structure

The project will adopt a five chapter structure.

The following is the order of the outline for each chapter in the final report:

  • Chapter One. The background information that will form the basis for research justification will appear in this section. Careful presentation of the rationale of the study will be included. This section will discuss the Saudi foreign policy and its influence on regional and international relations briefly. Objectives will also appear in this part.
  • Chapter Two. This section will present the literature reviewed in relation to Saudi foreign policy. The chapter will present frameworks, structures and circles embedded in the Kingdom’s foreign policy and the projected impacts.
  • Chapter Three. Methodology, knowledge gap, research design adopted and data gathering techniques will be outlined in this section.
  • Chapter Four. This chapter will present the information obtained through document analysis as the method for collecting data that will be used in this research. Qualitative analysis and presentation will be added.
  • Chapter Five. This is the last chapter of this research report that will provide conclusions on the basis of comparisons and answers to pertinent questions raised in chapter three with regards to the information obtained in chapter four. Recommendations will also be made.