After years of strained relations, Saudi Arabia and Iran finally have set aside their bitter animosity and announced on Friday to re-establish diplomatic ties, in a deal mediated by China.
The implications of this monumental decision are far-reaching and will undoubtedly reshape the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East, with ramifications felt across the Western world.
The whole geopolitical equation in the middle east will change with this decision, as years of diplomatic effort by the US in the region will be clouded with uncertainty.
This deal echoes the strong influence Beijing now has in the region where the US was the dominant powerbroker for nearly two decades. The US and Israel have long been using their regional alliance to confront Tehran as it expands its nuclear program.
Riyadh cut ties with Tehran after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran in 2016 following the Saudi execution of the revered Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr. In recent years, the rivalry between the two nations has dominated Middle East affairs and expanded to Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen.
China has recently strengthened its economic ties with Iran and Saudi Arabia, both of which are major oil suppliers to the second-largest economy in the world. During meetings held in Beijing under Chinese mediation, the agreement was reached.
As a result of the talks, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to resume diplomatic relations and reopen embassies … within two months,”
Iran’s state news agency Irna reported, citing a joint statement.
Nour News, which is linked to Iran’s supreme national security council, posted footage of Ali Shamkhani, the council’s secretary, with a Saudi official and China’s most senior diplomat, Wang Yi. This decision signals the new intention of Saudi Arabia to conduct a foreign policy in the middle east, one that is no longer briefed by Western influence.
Both Saudi Arabia and Iran, have agreed to respect state sovereignty and not interfere in each other’s internal affairs. They will also activate a security cooperation agreement that was signed back in 2001.
The deal between the two nations could have implications for a US-led effort to isolate Iran economically through sanctions. If there is a genuine warming of Saudi relations with Tehran, one consequence is likely to be a surge of Saudi investment inside Iran.