Abdulateef Al-MulhimAbdulateef Al-Mulhim
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)

Navigators use a term CBDR, which is whenever used requires immediate action. The measure that follows appears to be very simple but necessary to prevent a disaster and to ensure safe passage. CBDR stands for Constant Bearing, Decreasing Range. In simple language, this term is used when two moving objects are on a collision course and the bigger the objects, the bigger the disaster. The situation between Saudi Arabia and Iran is very similar these days. Both sides know that they are on a collision course. There is a great need to take some corrective measures to avoid this disaster. Many credible analysts have declared long ago that both countries are moving on the path of collision. Developing and maintaining stable relations between Riyadh and Tehran is of utmost importance. Both countries are at a stage where they can’t afford wasting any of its resources over unnecessary conflicts. Just a few days ago, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir announced that Riyadh wanted better relations with Tehran — a relationship based on mutual trust and genuine intentions between the two sides sharing common interests. Saudi Arabia wants to maintain cordial ties not only with Iran but also with the entire world particularly its neighbors. Good relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran are important not only for the two countries but for the region and the entire world. Just two days after the Saudi gesture, Iranian officials responded in their same old style making it difficult to create an environment conducive to peace and harmony. For the past few weeks, Iranian officials are trying to exploit the tragedies that befell Muslims during the last Haj season by spreading rumors and distorting facts and figures. This approach is undoubtedly deplorable. The statements being issued in the wake of those tragedies is a clear interference in Saudi Arabia’s internal matters. The entire world, including Iran, knows well that since its establishment the Kingdom has been taking care of Haj and the two holy sites. Saudi Arabia leaves no stone unturned to provide the pilgrims with the best possible services during their stay in the country. The Saudi authorities work all year around to ensure the comfort of the guests of Allah. The continuous development projects for the expansion of the holy sites are part of those efforts. Hundreds of thousands of Iranian pilgrims visit Saudi Arabia to perform Haj and Umrah without any problem. The Iranian pilgrims enjoy the same hospitality in Saudi Arabia, as is experienced by pilgrims coming from other parts of the world. Iran could prove to be an asset to the region and could prove to be beneficial for the stability of the Middle East, if it refrained from interfering in the internal matters of Saudi Arabia. In the current regional scenario, Iranian meddling in the internal affairs of its neighbors will not bode well for the region. Iran, itself, is facing numerous issues at the domestic level. It should make efforts to resolve its internal issues. Unfortunately, instead of thinking about putting its own house in order, Iran is wasting its energies and assets in trying to destabilize other countries particularly Saudi Arabia. Truth be told, Iran’s current tactics will cost it dearly. Tehran should try to change its approach in the region. Iran’s continuous criticism of Saudi Arabia will only widen the gap between the two sides. Iran is a neighbor that we Saudis want to have good relations with. As I have mentioned earlier, the bigger the objects that are on a collision course, the bigger the disaster. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran are powerful countries with huge arsenals of lethal weapons. So, it is important to act wisely before upping the ante. It is very important for the Iranians to take the genuine Saudi gestures for peace seriously. On various occasions, the Saudis have expressed their intentions to maintain cordial ties with Iran. Geography had put these two countries next to each other and there is nothing any of the two countries can do to change it. So, it is important to change the behavior. Iran should refrain from creating unnecessary friction. Iranians should realize that they cannot exploit religion for political gains for long. We are waiting for the Iranians to respond to our friendly gesture. Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Avoiding Regional Disaster reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.