Saudi Arabia and Iran Agree to Re-Establish Diplomatic Ties After 7 Years of Tension
On Friday, Saudi Arabia and Iran announced that they have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies within two months. The agreement was made during talks in Beijing and stipulates affirming “the respect for the sovereignty of states and the non-interference in internal affairs of states”. This marks a major breakthrough in the seven years of high tensions and violent exchanges between the two countries, and it is hoped that this pause in hostilities will lead to a calmer region.
The talks began Monday as part of an initiative by Chinese President Xi Jinping aimed at “developing good neighborly relations” between Tehran and Riyadh. It was China’s top diplomat Wang Yi, along with 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 who signed the accord in Beijing.
The agreement has the potential to throw a wrench in efforts to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, given the latter and Iran are longtime enemies. Israel has intimated that it may engage in military operations against Iran due to its rapidly advancing nuclear program, particularly after a UN report declared that Iran had enriched uranium up to 84%, a level close to the weapons-grade purity of 90%.
The response of other nations to the improvement of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran will depend on their own respective objectives. The agreement has been met with a warm reception from China, who view it as a success for peace. However, Israel may not be pleased, as it has deep concerns about Iran’s nuclear and missile programs, and wants an end to the nuclear dispute, even via military means.
The agreement comes as a blow to the Biden administration’s Middle East policy. After pledging to hold Saudi Arabia to account on the presidential trail, Biden visited the kingdom in an about-face last summer in response to high oil prices caused by Russia’s war.
The Iran-Saudi announcement also 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 as part of an expansion of former President Donald Trump’s normalization deals between Israel and Arab states.
This agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran indicates that the Iranian government could be more willing to negotiate and come to an agreement than previously thought by those in Washington.
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