0 $
2,500 $
5,000 $
1,440 $
3 DAYS LEFT UNTIL THE END OF NOVEMBER

Saudi Arabia-Iran Rapprochement Might Change Face Of The Middle East

Support SouthFront

Saudi Arabia-Iran Rapprochement Might Change Face Of The Middle East

Illustrative Image

Talks have been advancing, however some tensions still remain.

Written by Uriel Araujo, researcher with a focus on international and ethnic conflicts.

On October 20 prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, Saudi Foreigner Minister met in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) with Washington’s Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley to discuss the issue of nuclear talks with Iran. Joint actions to stop Iranian support for groups supposedly threatening regional security was also discussed. Prince Faisal warned of the “dangerous acceleration” of Iranian nuclear activities last week. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh said that ongoing talks with Saudi Arabia about the normalization of diplomatic relations have been “cordial” and have been taking place “in a friendly and positive atmosphere”. The obvious contrast signals the complexity of the current situation.

In another positive development, last week the Republic of Iran resumed its exports to the Kingdom for the first time since bilateral trade was stopped last year. In the last Iranian fiscal year which ended on 20 March 2021, trade activity between the two countries had reached zero. This is clearly a warming of the Iran-Saudi Arabia relationship. However, tensions remain.

Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have been pursuing a proxy conflict for a long time, often described as the Middle Eastern cold war. Even though it was unthinkable until very recently, negotiations have been held – a fourth round of talks took place in late September – and many expect a normalization announcement soon. The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh stated earlier this month that these talks, which started secretly in April, have been going in the right direction, but so far they have been kept private by both sides.

An Iranian trade official has recently said that there might be trade opportunities in Saudi Arabia for Iranian businessmen. The Agency France Press has quoted an unnamed French diplomat as saying that Riyadh really wants to end its five-year quarrel and both sides might have already agreed on reopening their consular offices.

Bilateral relations between the two countries ceased in 2016 when some Iranian militia men stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran. This in turn was a response to the Saudi execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shia activist.

There is an important religious angle here: Saudi Arabia is often seen as the leading Sunni power, while Iran would be the leading Shia actor. Interestingly, in terms of foreign policy, many Islamic nations in the Middle East have been aligned to one of these two powers according to this religious divide. Syria, for example, does not have a Shia majority, but is ruled by President Bashar al-Assad (a member of a heterodox Shia sect) who counts on Shia militias – including Iranian-backed Hezbollah – to fight mostly Sunni rebels. That is why the Tehran-Riyadh rivalry sometimes appears to be almost essential.

Over the past two years, however, some steps have been taken by both countries towards improving their relations, albeit slowly.

Returning to the 2015 deal – the  Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) – is what is being discussed now. Saudi Arabia had criticized the JCPA for not addressing the issue of Iran’s missile programme, and its proxies in the region. In 2018, former US President Donald Trump withdrew from this deal and then re-imposed tough sanctions on Tehran. Riyadh supported Trump’s decision. Afterwards, Iran resumed its uranium enrichment activities. Joe Biden, in its turn, has signaled he wants to negotiate with Iran a return to compliance with the 2015 deal.

Meanwhile, the US has been focusing on East Asia in its efforts to counter China. The Quad, and even AUKUS are good examples of such a shift. Another surprising development was Washington’s decision regarding its stance on the Iranian-backed Houthis – it ceased to consider them a terrorist organization. Biden also suspended arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Some experts even speculated that such moves were a message to Tehran indicating Washington’s good will to negotiate on the Iranian nuclear program.

For the European powers and the US, navigation in the Gulf has always been of uttermost strategic importance and it remains so – it is essential for oil transportation, and thus any conflict in the region that threatened such freedom of navigation would invite US intervention. Therefore, from an American perspective, a Saudi-Iranian “power share” in the region (albeit tense) would be mostly welcome.

Saudi outreach to Iran is also largely due to a series of Iranian small victories. Be it in Syria, Lebanon or Palestine, Tehran today has more political influence in the Levant and abroad than Riyadh does. Moreover, the Saudi position in Yemen has weakened. The Kingdom has simply failed to defeat the Iranian-backed Houthis.

The implications of a Saudi-Iranian rapprochement are mind-blowing. In such a scenario, if the rest of the Arab world followed Riyadh, then this would change the face of the Middle East.  It is a complex equation, though. The Abraham Accords themselves in large part have been made possible thanks to Saudi endeavors in encouraging their Arab regional partners and also sort of giving the green light. The Saudi Kingdom is perceived by Iran as doing Israel’s bidding in the region and Iran is seen by Israel as the greatest threat it faces. This is not going to change in the foreseeable future.

One can expect, however, mutual concessions pertaining to a number of points. This would be in line with a series of Saudi pragmatic moves concerning foreign policy, such as seeking to improve relations with Turkey, ending Qatar’s embargo, and even making some good will gestures towards Syria. As for Iran, Riyadh certainly would like Tehran to exert its influence upon the Houthis to the benefit of Saudi Arabia. In return, the Kingdom could offer the Islamic Republic its acceptance of reviving the nuclear deal, and perhaps even compromising on a future political role for the Houthis in a pacified Yemen.

Therefore, although the Iran-Saudi Arabia talks do have the potential to build a future rapprochement, considering all the tensions involved and decades of mutual mistrust, it would be too optimistic or even naive to hope for a quick and simple reconciliation.

Finally, one cannot also help but to notice the Western hypocrisy regarding the Iranian nuclear program. On August 4, 2020 the Wall Street Journal reported that Western authorities were concerned about nuclear cooperation between Saudi Arabia and China related to building a facility for extracting so-called yellowcake from uranium ore – a vital ingredient for nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons as well. This fact however is rarely discussed.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

Support SouthFront

SouthFront

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
30 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Chris Gr

Maybe we will see a pro-Turkish and pro-Iranian Muslim Brotherhood coup in Saudi Arabia?

farbat

why would iran support the filthy takfiris such as that you are delusional iran isnt going to support any wahabis or neo ottomanist so forget it its not as if they arent a pest in idlib already so why would iran want to support that group of idiots according to your believes iran support everything that calls itself islamic but you dont seem to understand anything

Last edited 1 month ago by farbat
Jnoub

Correct, Turkey is trying to revive the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman Empire wasn’t friendly to Shias, they starved us out in mount Lebanon. That’s why Shias were kicked out of the cities and put in the south, while the pro-ottoman Sunnis were given the cities

Chris Gr

Then why Turkey is helping Shia Azeris? lol

Jnoub

Because the government is Sunni. Shias hold the majority, but the power is with the Sunni Zionist puppet

Chris Gr

How is the government Sunni? Do you still believe in pseudo-clash of Sunnis and Shias?

Jnoub

You asked why Turkey is helping Shia Azerbaijan, but the people in power are Sunni, not Shia.

Chris Gr

Proof?

Chris Gr

Iranians can help Saudi Muslim Brotherhood. Also, Iran can help Jordan against Israel and Saudis (to take Hejaz).

Icarus Tanović

Saudis can help you in the terms of manly love that you and your brother and his kid likes.
So close the door and turn off the light, because you gonna be sucking my dick all night.

Chris Gr

You will be banned and sent to a doctor. I have no relations with your paraphilias. Go do it to yourself alone.

Icarus Tanović

Yeah, ban me, just do it! Christina took my 10 inches dick good. Jerk it up couple of times and the dog was ready. I was fuucking her, fuucking her fuucking for hours cos I got the power. Christinas mom took it in the ass. She took it real good. Then his father, start to suck, and I smacked hers moms ass like fat piece of bacon.
(These are Cristina’s secret fantasies, she told me not to tell anyone).

Chris Gr

This dude is completely insane.

Icarus Tanović

Yeah, I’m a psychopath. Your worst nightmare.

Chris Gr

I know it. You admit it. Go to a hospital.

Chris Gr

Nice try Icarus. You and me both know very well that i’m into your paraphilias. But once the lights are off, you will regret putting your tiny dick into my mouth!

Last edited 1 month ago by Chris Gr
Cenzi

Gayest shit ive read in years

Icarus Tanović

Just blow it.

GeorgeBest

Sunni Muslim Brotherhood have NOTHING to do with Shi’ite Iran. MB are SUNNI Muslim organization that has operated in Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and once upon time took refuge in Saudi Arabia before al-Saudis felt threatened and ousted them (at end of 1950’s the CIA had brought Egyptian MB members to KSA to protect them from being wiped out by Egyptian military). Enough with the obvious disinformation trolling. If YOU are anti-Iranian, just have the courage to openly state your position, and stop hiding behind false smear accusations and blatant dishonesty.

Last edited 1 month ago by GeorgeBest
Chris Gr

Who translated Sayyid Qutb into Persian? Who was friend of Hassan al Banna? Who was a British agent? One person is behind these three questions.

Icarus Tanović

They’re Wahhabi just named differently. No sunnis, whatsoever.

Chris Gr

Hassan al Banna was friend of Ayatollah.

Jnoub

In return, the Kingdom could offer the Islamic Republic its acceptance of reviving the nuclear deal

That’s unlikely due to the fact that Israel wants Iran to stop its missile program and quit funding Hezbollah to return to the nuclear deal. Iran will never do this because it’s best line of defence because how successful and effective it is. They will never stop funding Hezbollah, Hezbollah is too big of a player now to just let go. Hezbollah has power all over the Middle East and has sleep agents in every western country and letting them go will hurt Iran. I doubt America and Israel will agree to nuclear deal if Iran doesn’t stop missile and drone programs and funding Hezbollah.

Jnoub

Saudi Arabia is clearly trying to negotiate terms that fit Israeli interests best, it’s too obvious. They think Iran doesn’t know what’s happening. Like the analysis said, Iran has much more victories and influence over the Levant, they’re clearly winning. It seems to me this deal is more a desperation act on America, Israel and the Arab gulf countries

Chris Gr

Yes it is desperation. However, a wider conflict will have benefit on the anti-Muslim world.

Chris Gr

Icarus, come and fuck me. Just like you fuck her in the movies. You look so good, dough.

Icarus Tanović

Thank you.

GeorgeBest

al-Saudi”s and their Wahhabi theology deeply loathe both Shia’s and Iran – if JSA suddenly wants to make nice with Iran now, it only means Iran is winning the shadow war for influence in the region.

30
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x