Globe facing Iran and Asia

Puentes sobre el golfo Pérsico

MADRID – El reciente aumento de las tensiones entre Irán y Arabia Saudí ha vuelto a centrar nuestra atención en la rivalidad de estas dos potencias de Oriente Medio. Su enemistad viene de lejos pero, a diferencia de lo que se señala en muchas ocasiones, no es secular. Durante años mantuvieron, pese a sus diferencias, una relación fluida articulada por intereses comunes. Hoy, tras la ruptura de las relaciones diplomáticas entre ellos, la vuelta a la cooperación se vislumbra lejana y difícil, pero no imposible.

La religión imperante en cada uno de los países no ha sido siempre un elemento de confrontación, aunque sí ha sido esencial para diferenciar sus identidades. Persia, bajo la dinastía Safavid, en el año 1501, convirtió el chiismo en su religión oficial como seña de identidad nacional frente a sus vecinos otomanos, que eran suníes y ocupaban parte del territorio iraní. Durante los dos siglos siguientes se enfrentaron al imperio otomano -el centro del califato suní- por la supremacía en la región. Esta construcción de identidad por contraposición se daba también durante los primeros siglos del Islam, entre muchos de los cristianos, judíos o zoroastras que se convertían. En lugar del movimiento suní, elegían el chiismo como protesta contra los imperios árabes que consideraban a quienes no lo eran, ciudadanos de segunda clase.

Una vez constituido el reino de Arabia Saudí, en 1932, Riad y Teherán establecieron relaciones diplomáticas, pese a que la religión oficial del reino era el wahabismo, una rama del Islam suní. Durante los años 60 y 70 del siglo XX, ambos países mantuvieron vías de cooperación políticas y de seguridad; les unía su interés en frenar el avance del comunismo soviético en la región y se enfrentaban a movimientos radicales que amenazaban la permanencia de sus monarquías. Para Occidente, y de manera especial para Estados Unidos, los dos eran aliados clave en la Guerra Fría.

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