Foreign Policy Research Institute

“A nation must think before it acts.” —Robert Strausz-Hupé
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Mediation and Saudi Foreign Policy

Mehran Kamrava

Abstract

Saudi Arabia has positioned itself among the primary mediators in some of the Middle East's most intractable conflicts, having played central mediatory roles in Lebanon, Palestine, and in Arab-Israeli conflict. Compared with the mediation efforts of another frequent regional mediator, namely Qatar, Saudi mediation initiatives tend to be more institutionally grounded and are less personal in nature, and often involve less fanfare and are more discreet. At the same time, the Kingdom is not always readily identified with its satellite media network of Al Arabiya in the same way that Qatari foreign policy is perceived to be closely aligned with Al Jazeera coverage. Although such efforts have seldom resulted in successful resolution of conflicts among the disputants involved, the Kingdom has used mediation to successfully further its twin objectives of ensuring and furthering state and regime security, while also playing a central coordinating role in regional affairs. As such, Saudi Arabia is likely to continue to play a similar mediatory role in the foreseeable future.