If a state works just against this pattern, it will step out of the line and inevitably has to pay dearly through the subsequent damages resulting from the derailment.
When it comes to the requirements and tools of effective and successful implementation of foreign policy, an array of instruments, from economic to military to human-related ones, are regarded significant. Even the power to impact culturally and ideologically is crucial for a foreign policy to deliver the desired results.
Joseph Bye, a prominent American political scientist who co-developed the “international relations theory of neoliberalism”, suggested that a complex of soft and hard power factors must be at a country’s disposal, and that if just one segment, among many others, goes missing, that country will fail to successfully go the way to materialize its goals.
Applying this principle to Saudi Arabia, the kingdom broke with its conservatism and has failed to regard, or perhaps intentionally disregarded, the above-mentioned principle of correlation, or at best Al Saud assessment of self-power in an array of fields has been faulty. This claim can be easily substantiated by taking into account the recent years’ various regional cases in which the oil-rich kingdom got involved.
For six years, the Saudi Arabian leaders have been spending big money on battle and providing financial and non-financial support for the extremist and terrorist groups fighting in Syria to overthrow the Syrian government led by President Basher al-Assad. For instance, now everybody knows that Ahrar al-Sham group, one of the most extremist terrorist groups fighting against Syrian government, enjoys full backing of the Saudi regime, militarily and logistically, and in return implements the Saudi agenda in Syria.
But the battlefield developments of Syria war, now in its sixth year, disclose a complete Saudi failure to obtain its goals in the war-ravaged country as Syrian forces take an upper hand on the front lines and today it is clear that president Assad will stay in power. Even the Western leaders, formerly pushing for president Assad’s ouster, have come to the conclusion that they cannot topple Syrian government.
Saudi Arabia is no more a crucial actor in the Syrian conflict and is widely snubbed by others as key parties seek a settlement. Riyadh has no influence in the Russia-initiated Astana peace talks, nor does it hold a voice in the more significant Geneva peace process.
The same failure of Saudi Arabian policy is observable in Iraq where during the past 10 years the regime’s leaders intervened with money and diplomacy without any meaningful gain. At the time being Saudi Arabia is the most hated state in the eyes of the Iraqi people and elites. Such aversion to Riyadh is even witnessed among the Sunni communities of the country.
Saudi Arabia has backed the takfiris in Iraq, including ISIS fighters who captured Mosul in 2014. But last week, the Iraqi forces reclaimed the northern city from the yoke of ISIS, a victory marking failure of Saudi military ends in Iraq. Politically, Saudi Arabia’s policy appears to fuel sectarian disputes among Iraqis have failed and the regime’s ambassador to Baghdad, Thamer al-Sabhan, was forced to resign on Iraqi officials reques for his replacement after he called on the Iraqi government to exclude the Iraq’s Public Mobilization Forces (PMF), a major anti-terror force formed in opposition of ISIS, from anti-ISIS campaign.
In Yemen, another area of Saudi involvement, the west-backed regime has failed to obtain its preset goals after over two years of ruthless war against the most impoverish Arab nation.
When in late March 2015 Saudi Arabia-led coalition staged aggression against Yemen, Riyadh announced two major goals: undermining the revolutionary Ansarullah movement in a sweeping single-month bombing campaign and restoring to power the resigned Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Nevertheless, now after 28 months of indiscriminate bombing, Ansarullah along with allies, including former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, holds the capital Sana’a. The revolutionary movement restarted the Yemeni parliament in August 2016 and formed Supreme Political Council in July the same year, tasked with leading a transitional process.
Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, on the opposite side, has failed to establish his government even in southern province of Aden, where his loyalists hold ground and coalition forces are offering unceasing support to them. Confirmed news reports suggest that Saudi Arabia will eject Hadi as its favorable choice in near future as strains from the UAE for new figure for Yemen presidency mount on the Saudi rulers.
The only tangible outcome of the unabated aggression against the already crisis-hit neighbor has been deep hatred in the heart of the Yemeni people as Riyadh’s cases of crimes against humanity pile up. Even diplomatic support from Western allies on the international stage has failed to cover up Saudi regime’s human rights record in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia will at the end of the road meet its grim fate as did former British Prime Minister Toni Blair who was charged with violations of human rights after a national inquiry blamed his joining the US 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Recent diplomatic row with Qatar showcases very latest Saudi policy decline. Riyadh along with some allies imposed an all-out blockade on Doha, hoping that the embargo will make Qatari leaders accede to the Saudi demands. But it, as in other cases, proved not viable, rather it put ahead of the kingdom a new challenge. Qatar rejected a list of 13 demands given by the blockading countries for de-escalation. Furthermore, Doha hosted newly-arrived forces of Turkey, a key actor and rival of Saudi Arabia, and boosted its relations with Iran, another leading rival to the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia, striving after Arab and Muslim worlds’ leadership, now might come up with the reality that solely carrot and stick policy motivates other states to build alliance with it, while others as tiny as Qatar do not submit, and even pose challenges.
As the picture of the regional cases shows, Saudi Arabia is a loser when it comes to foreign policy efficiency. This raises a question: Why this degree of foreign policy failure?
Simply, there is no balance between the Persian Gulf Arab regime’s potentials and its ambitious goals in the region. Saudi rulers only rely on petrodollars in their pursuit of various regional goals, while they are devoid of other power segments like effective manpower, powerful military, influential geopolitical position, and penetrating ideology.
The Saudi military failed its test of efficiency in Yemen war. The Saudi decision-making mechanism is not governed collectivity and rationality, displaying the regime’s authoritarian political system that has a despotic decision-maker in center.