A deal between the regional archrivals Saudi Arabia and Iran to re-establish diplomatic ties after seven years of hostility was announced on Friday, and it could have far-reaching implications for the Middle East. Following talks in Beijing on Friday, Saudi Arabia and Iran announced in a joint statement that they intend to reopen their embassies within two months, per an agreement mediated by China.
A trade and technology agreement from 1998 will also be revived, and a security pact signed 22 years ago that called for cooperation on terrorism, drug smuggling, and money laundering will be put back into effect.
The announcement made on Friday is a diplomatic win for China in the Gulf region, which has traditionally been seen as the sphere of influence of the United States. It comes as the Biden administration works to broker a normalization pact between Israel and Saudi Arabia in an effort to score a victory of its own in the Middle East.
According to Iranian state media, talks between Iranian national security chief Ali Shamkhani, Saudi national security council adviser Mosaed Bin Mohammad Al-Aiban, and China’s top diplomat Wang Yi have been ongoing in Beijing since March 6.
Iranian media aired a video of the signing ceremony, which showed officials from Saudi Arabia, Iran, and China sitting side by side at tables draped in their respective flags.
After Years Of Hostility, Iran And Saudi Arabia Have Decided To Renew Ties
Reuters, 10 March, DUBAI After seven years of hostility that had threatened stability and security in the Gulf and had helped fuel conflicts across the Middle East, from Yemen to Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia agreed on Friday to re-establish relations.
After four days of secret negotiations in Beijing, top security officials from the two rival Middle Eastern powers announced a new agreement.
According to a statement issued by Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China, both capitals have agreed to reopen their embassies and resume diplomatic relations within two months. States’ sovereignty and non-interference in one another’s internal affairs are affirmed in the agreement.
Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of firing missiles and drones at the kingdom’s oil facilities in 2019 and attacking tankers in the Gulf. Iran has rejected the allegations.
The Houthi movement in Yemen, which is aligned with Iran, has launched cross-border missile and drone attacks into Saudi Arabia, which is leading the coalition fighting the Houthis, and later expanded the strikes to the UAE in 2022.
On Friday, the top Iranian security official, Ali Shamkhani, and the Saudi Arabian national security adviser, Musaed bin Mohammed Al-Aiban, signed an agreement to revive a security cooperation pact originally signed in 2001, as well as a separate agreement on trade, economy, and investment.
“Heading In The Correct Direction”
For many years, Iran and Saudi Arabia, the region’s preeminent Shi’ite and Sunni Muslim powers, have been at odds and have backed opposing sides in proxy wars across the Middle East, from Yemen to Syria.
After a dispute between the two countries over Riyadh’s execution of a Shi’ite Muslim cleric escalated into the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran in 2016, Saudi Arabia severed ties with Iran.
Hossein Amirabdollahian, the foreign minister of Iran, hinted at further steps toward normalizing relations, saying it offered great prospects for both countries and for the Middle East.
Amirabdollahian tweeted that “the diplomatic apparatus is actively behind the preparation of more regional steps” in terms of the Iranian government’s “neighborhood policy,” the central tenet of its foreign policy.
According to a high-ranking Iranian official, easing tensions with Saudi Arabia has become a top priority for Tehran in recent months and will facilitate the conclusion of the protracted talks on Iran’s nuclear program.”It will encourage the West to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran,” the official told Reuters.
The Regional Rivals Have Had Tense Relations For Quite Some Time
After protesters stormed Saudi diplomatic posts in Iran in 2016, Riyadh severed ties with Tehran. A prominent Shia Muslim scholar had been executed by Saudi Arabia days prior, setting off the demonstrations.
Shia-majority Iran and Sunni-dominated regions In Yemen, for example, where Tehran supports the Houthi rebels and Riyadh leads a military coalition supporting the government, these two countries’ interests are diametrically opposed. But efforts have been made recently to mend fences on both sides.
A few years ago, Saudi and Iranian officials met in Baghdad, Al Jazeera’s Ali Hashem reported from Tehran. Back in 2021, the Iraqis initiated mediation talks. As expected, the Iraqi elections of 2021 brought a halt to all activities.
After five meetings, “there was still nothing to report,” he said. Oman was also the site of security-level talks. The situation in Yemen was the primary focus of those.
Not only are Iran and Saudi Arabia on opposing sides in the war in Yemen, but they are also involved in the conflicts in Lebanon and Syria. Therefore, better ties between Tehran and Riyadh could affect Middle Eastern politics.
China has a vested interest in preventing a “descend into chaos” in the region, according to Adnan Tabatabai, CEO of the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient in Germany, who was quoted by Al Jazeera. “In 2019, when the waterways of Hormuz were the sites of different explosions and attacks,” he said.
“There are inherent interests for the Chinese to try to use the leverage that they have towards both Tehran and Riyadh to make some efforts to balance these relations and finalize what the Iraqis and Omanis had in fact started,” Tabatabai said.
Check out the Newest Breaking News from All Over the World: Melodicnews.com