De-securitisation and Pragmatism in the Persian Gulf: The Future of Saudi-Iranian Relations
Since 1979, relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have oscillated between periods of overt hostility and apparent rapprochement, yet since 2003 the two have engaged in a vitriolic competition that has spread across regional affairs, to devastating effect in Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain, Iraq and Yemen. Central to much of this are efforts to securitise the other in the eyes of external audiences, discursively presenting the rivalry in the language of security. Yet despite their competing claims to Islamic legitimacy and leadership, there are strong pragmatic reasons related to political and economic concerns for the two states to engage with one another. Underpinning this, however, is a need for de-securitisation moves, reducing tensions between the two through framing relations in terms of ‘normal’ politics rather than the language of security.
Keywords: Saudi Arabia; Iran; de-securitisation; peacebuilding