Iran and Saudi Arabia Establish Diplomatic Relations, Facilitating Regional Stability
On Friday, Saudi Arabia and Iran announced they would re-establish diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies and missions within two months, signaling a step toward a potentially less hostile relationship between the two countries. The agreement was reached following a week of talks in Beijing between the two nations, which have been engaged in a proxy war in Yemen over the past eight years and have been on opposite sides of conflicts throughout the Middle East. The breakthrough between the two Gulf countries comes as China seeks to increase its influence in the region and the Biden administration attempts to broker a normalization pact between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The agreement was the result of talks between the two states, which began Monday as part of an initiative by Chinese President Xi Jinping aimed at “developing good neighborly relations” between Tehran and Riyadh. China’s top diplomat Wang Yi, Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, and Minister of State and national security adviser of Saudi Arabia Musaad bin Mohammed al-Aiban presided over the closing meeting in Beijing.
The agreement comes as both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times ran stories teasing the potential of Saudi Arabia and Israel establishing diplomatic ties. However, analysts believe there is little prospect of Israel and Saudi Arabia’s deal of the century due to Saudi Arabia’s conditions of nuclear power and security guarantees and Saudi Arabia’s unwillingness to agree to a real peace deal with Israel.
Acknowledging that the prior tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia was not beneficial to either country, the two have resumed their normal relations. Re-establishing diplomatic relations will not solve all issues between countries in the region, however, it can bring a much-needed sense of stability as tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to mount.
The Iran-Saudi announcement is also a diplomatic victory for China, who is involved in brokering the agreement, and sends a signal from Saudi Arabia to the Biden administration about the role China is playing in the Middle East. China has recently hosted Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi for a “strategic cooperation” pact and Xi traveled to Saudi Arabia for a state visit.
The agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia may be an important step forward in regional diplomacy, and it may help in facilitating progress towards a more lasting truce in Yemen.
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