What are the reasons behind Saudi Arabia’s hostility to Iran? (PART ONE)

There are multiple reasons for the historical hostility Saudi Arabia has shown to Iran in different periods of time, an analytical report says.

The hostility of Saudi Arabia toward the Islamic Republic of Iran came to a head with the Mina tragedy. Officials in the kingdom insist on maintaining their hostile attitude instead of walking down the path of realism and being accountable for their mismanagement of the deadly stampede.

Hostile ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia have a long history dating back to when the kingdom was formed. Saudi Arabia’s hostile approaches to Iranian pilgrims and dispute over three Iranian islands [in the Persian Gulf] are classic examples of such historical hostility. This hostile attitude, which has been escalated following the victory of the Islamic Revolution, has shown itself in different forms, from a proxy war to threats to wage war.

Fararu.com on November 10 released a report on the reasons behind the hostility Saudi Arabia nurses against Iran. The following is PART ONE of the partial translation of the report which references an article by the Islamic Revolution Document Center:

Support for Saddam Hossein during the imposed war and attempts to undermine Iran’s interests in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, etc. are among the measures Saudi Arabia takes to counter Iran. Nonetheless, what Saudi Arabia has done to consolidate its foothold in the region – to bring to power a government in Iraq with close ties with Al Saud family; to separate Syria from Iran; to stop Hezbollah in Lebanon from gaining power, to name only a few – has done little to help it achieve its stated objectives, even through open support for ISIS.

Reasons behind Saudi hostility toward Iran are as follows:

1. Changing the Persian Gulf’s name

[…] A number of countries, including Saudi Arabia, use the term “Arabian Gulf”, which is a fake name, instead of the Persian Gulf. All fabrications by the Arab countries come in line with longer-term objectives such as tribal disputes directly plotted by Britain. To prove that the British hands are at work, we can say that all through these years the British embassies in Arab countries have adopted conflicting stances fuelling the differences, with protests by Iran and Iran-lovers leading nowhere.

2. Saudi role in separation of Bahrain from Iran

[…] Bahrain was part of Iranian territory until 1957 when it was separated from mainland Iran thanks to interferences by the British government. History shows that the Iranian government held no sway in Bahrain from the start of the Qajar era because of the presence of colonial powers. In fact, Bahrain was under the influence of Britain with the Iranian government maintaining its nominal sovereignty over its islands. […]

After Iran declared Bahrain its 14th province in 1957, Saudi Arabia tried to separate Bahrain from Iran by setting up a union of which Bahrain was an independent member. […] In 1968, the [then] Saudi king welcomed the emir of Bahrain as the head of state. […] Eventually the Iranian government renounced its claim to Bahrain. It was either because it was afraid of the US and Britain, or it was preparing Arab nations to accept Iran’s offer to trade Bahrain for the islands of Abu Musa, the Greater and Lesser Tunbs. As a result, Bahrain was separated from Iran through a distorted referendum.

3. Triple Persian Gulf islands

[…] Since 1992, Saudi Arabia has supported baseless claims by the UAE to the three Iranian islands [in the Persian Gulf], saying that Iran’s takeover in 1971 of these islands from Britain has had expansionist intentions. […] Unfounded claims by the UAE which have the backing of Arab rulers are repeated each year.

4. Saudi Arabia’s downright hostility to Islamic Republic

[…] Post-revolutionary Iran’s ideas such as establishment of a global government of Islam, negation of domination, support for the oppressed, etc. drew reactions first from authoritarian governments such as that of Saudi Arabia. Propaganda by Arab nations against Shiite Iran and news on human rights violations in Iran influenced the public opinion in the Arab world.

[…] Opponents of the Islamic Revolution, especially in Saudi Arabia, took advantage of any development inside and outside the kingdom to undermine the revolution in court of public opinion. […]

5. Fight against ideals of Islamic Revolution

[…] Thanks to its oil and Hajj revenues, the Al Saud government has spent staggering amounts of money on promoting Wahhabism, which paints a conservative picture of Islam. The Saudi clerics – backed by Riyadh and the West – have tried to offset the Pure Muhammadan Islam which is championed by the Islamic Republic.

[…] Iran is facing regional rivals such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Turkey is the leading country from an economic point of view, but Saudi Arabia is unique among Middle Eastern countries for its socio-cultural structure in which different tribes and sects – with their traditional and religious teachings –have created a special culture.

6. Cooperation with the US in Tabas Desert

Following the failure of the US government to release the Americans taken hostage during the 1979 takeover of the US embassy in Tehran by Iranian university students, President Jimmy Carter ordered the launch of an operation to release the hostages. The Delta Force carried out Operation Eagle Claw [in vain] to release the hostages in Tehran.


Later Zbigniew Brzezinski [an American political scientist] pointed to the cooperation of Egypt and a few other countries [in this plot] saying that a friendly nation cooperated with the US and a few other regional countries indirectly helped the US in this operation. […] He refused to name names, but the Iranian students said that Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Oman and Pakistan participated in the US operation, citing some documents which survived the US bombing of the helicopters which crashed in the botched rescue attempt. […]

7. Historic disrespect for Iranian pilgrims in 1943

– Disrespect for Iranian pilgrims and the killing of an Iranian pilgrim


In 1943, Iran and Saudi Arabia severed their diplomatic ties due to the killing of an Iranian pilgrim in Saudi Arabia.

– Massacre of Iranian Hajj pilgrims in 1987

[…] In 1987, Saudi security forces killed as many as 400 Iranian and non-Iranian pilgrims. This disaster escalated hostility between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The late Imam Khomeini slammed Saudi Arabia as the symbol of the so-called US-style and Royal Islam. […]

The massacre of Iranian pilgrims dealt the heaviest blow to ties between the two countries. The late Imam Khomeini said the crime Riyadh committed in this incident is unforgiveable. […]