Saudi Arabia, Iran Agree to Normalize Diplomatic Ties « Khabarhub
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Saudi Arabia, Iran Agree to Normalize Diplomatic Ties

12 March 2023  

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CAIRO: The decision by Saudi Arabia and Iran to normalize ties after two years of lengthy discussions and at least five sessions of talks comes at a time of economic and political instability in the Middle East.

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud said the agreement should have positive consequences.

“We reached an understanding of good neighborly relations and respect for the sovereignty of regional states and dealing with all regional threats on the basis of our dialogue,” he said. Saudi Arabia, he added, sees dialogue as the best way to deal with all those issues.

Iran Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said the agreement to restore relations with Saudi Arabia “will create major new possibilities in the region, based on the principle of neighborly security.”

Iran Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, noted that “China is providing security guarantees for the agreement,” which is due to take effect in two months.

Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, told VOA that the “new feature” of the Saudi-Iran agreement is China’s role in the deal, which he said is “very simple to understand.”

China, he said, has major economic interests with both countries and its regional ambitions won’t see the light of day unless the region is stable. He added that just as the U.S. has made its (famous) pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, China has made its own pivot to the Middle East and time will tell whether that will create a new zone of conflict between the world’s two major powers, the U.S. and China.

China imports 40% of the oil it consumes from the Middle East and its oft-publicized “Maritime Silk Road Initiative” involves using ports in both the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and on the eastern coast of Africa, which are frequently buffeted by regional turbulence.

Mehrdad Khonsari, a former Iranian diplomat and London-based analyst, told VOA that the agreement is a “positive sign,” but he still has doubts.

“They’ve been holding talks sponsored by Iraq in Baghdad for the past two years and they’ve had five sessions of talks (without any) major breakthroughs,” he said. “But the fact that they decided to restore their diplomatic ties is a positive sign — but it has to be taken with a pinch of salt in terms of how far this agreement is likely to achieve anything substantial in the near future.”

Khonsari stressed that he “doesn’t see Iran…in any way…accommodating the Saudis with what they have sought in terms of reducing their proxy interference in places like Iraq, Syria, Lebanon or Yemen” and that the “fundamental differences between Iran and Saudi Arabia that have existed since the inception of the Islamic Republic in 1979″— with a few brief and temporary exceptions — remain.

Khattar Abou Diab noted that, since the 2015 nuclear deal called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, “Iran has used its proxy forces to destroy most of the institutions of state in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.” One must wonder, he asked, “if Iran is likely to change its style and definitively abandon its idea of exporting its revolution in the form of a transnational and trans-religious project.

Washington-based Gulf analyst Theodore Karasik told VOA that “the repercussions of the resumption of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia are likely to be more visible in the coming weeks and months but the good news is that tensions, which were building (between the two sides), seem to have eased, giving other Gulf States a sense of relief.”


Publish Date : 12 March 2023 17:43 PM

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