In November 2001, I shared a ride in an elevator in the United Nations building with Iran’s former reformist president, Mohammad Khatami. I was his interpreter in New York, had received a master’s degree in international affairs, and was preparing for my PhD oral exams. Iran’s president inquired what my research interest was. I replied vaguely that I wanted to write about Iran’s foreign policy in the Persian Gulf. Years earlier, during the course of the Iran-Iraq war, I had made the decision to write about this topic someday. Yet even back then, Iraq did not fascinate me as much as Saudi Arabia, which seemed a world apart. I knew very little about the Kingdom and it felt strange that the rare first-hand accounts of it that I received from Iranian pilgrims or politicians focused on one narrow experience or interaction. In fact, in all the years that I lived in Iran, not once did I hear a traveler speak about Saudi Arabia’s people, culture, or natural environment, or present a holistic opinion of Saudi society and politics.
KeywordsSaudi Arabia Gulf Region Regional Balance Foreign Intervention Iranian Relation
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