Friday, March 10, 2023
Why Iran and Saudi Arabia move to restore diplomatic ties? DWNews. Accord marks diplomatic victory for Beijing in a region where U.S. has long dominated geopolitics, says The Wall Street Journal. #MiddleEast #SaudiArabia #Iran
"RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations Friday in a deal mediated by China, ending seven years of estrangement and jolting the geopolitics of the Middle East.
The deal signals a sharp increase in Beijing’s influence in a region where the U.S. has long been the dominant power broker, and could complicate efforts by the U.S. and Israel to strengthen a regional alliance to confront Tehran as it expands its nuclear program. It comes as the U.S. has been trying to broker a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel, an effort now clouded with uncertainty.
China in recent years has built closer economic ties with Iran and Saudi Arabia, both of which are important suppliers of oil to the world’s second-largest economy. But this bridge-building effort is the first time Beijing has intervened so directly in the Mideast’s political rivalries.
It comes at a time when relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, long aligned with Washington, have grown strained over America’s diminishing security guarantees and Riyadh’s decision to cut oil production to keep crude prices high during Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia was hammered out behind closed doors in Beijing between top officials of the two countries, they said in a joint statement. Chinese leader Xi Jinping raised the idea of the talks most recently during a state visit to Riyadh in December, according to people familiar with the matter.
As part of the deal, Iran pledged to halt attacks against Saudi Arabia, including from Houthi rebels it backs in the Yemen civil war, according to Saudi, Iranian and U.S. officials. Iran and Saudi Arabia will reopen their embassies and missions on each other’s soil within two months and agreed that their foreign ministers will hold a summit soon to hammer out other details.
For Tehran, the accord eases the international isolation it has faced since antigovernment protests last fall and the collapse of talks aimed at restoring a 2015 international nuclear deal dashed its hopes of relief from economic sanctions. For Riyadh, it gives the kingdom more leverage as it seeks new U.S. security guarantees from the Biden administration.
“For Iran it’s about escaping diplomatic isolation. For China, it’s about deepening their engagement in the region and showing it’s not just an energy consumer. And for Saudis it’s about the Americans,” said Ray Takeyh, an Iran expert at the Council on Foreign Relations and former State Department official and former U.S. diplomat.
But re-establishing diplomatic relations isn’t likely to immediately lessen the longstanding security and sectarian tensions that have divided Riyadh and Tehran for decades and fueled their competition for regional dominance, analysts said.
Ties between the two countries were cut in 2016 after the Saudi Embassy in Tehran was overrun amid protests over the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric by the Saudi government.
Since then, the Iran-Saudi rift has represented the often violent schism between Shiite and Sunni Muslims that has dominated the Middle East for decades."
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