Middle East

Iran and Saudi Arabia bury the hatchet; impact on Middle East

The recent reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Beijing was a pivotal moment for both the Middle East

According to the media, the recent reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Beijing was a pivotal moment for both the Middle East, which has been shaped by their long-standing rivalry, and for China’s growing influence in the oil-rich region.

The announcement was unexpected but had been anticipated as the two regional powerhouses had been engaged in talks for nearly two years to restore diplomatic relations. Negotiators sometimes appeared to be delaying the process, as the deep-seated distrust between the two nations seemed insurmountable, as reported by CNN.

Simultaneously, Iran was also negotiating with the US to revive the 2016 nuclear deal while engaging in talks with Saudi Arabia. The outcomes of both sets of talks seemed to be linked, with Riyadh and Washington having traditionally been aligned on foreign policy.

The media reported that the recent reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which took place in Beijing, marks a significant moment for the Middle East and China’s influence in the oil-rich region. Negotiations between the two countries to re-establish diplomatic relations had been ongoing for nearly two years, with deep-seated distrust at times seeming insurmountable.

The article notes that there is a shift in regional alliances underway, with Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the US becoming strained, and China’s standing rising. Beijing has forged good diplomatic relations with many countries in the Middle East, driven by economic ties and without lectures on human rights. This highlights the US’ diminishing regional influence and suggests that China has been poised to broker this latest diplomatic breakthrough for years.

While some in Washington may view China’s emerging role as a mediator in the Middle East as a threat, Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Washington-based Quincy Institute, argues that a more stable Middle East benefits the United States. He suggests that this development should trigger introspection on Washington’s Middle East policy and warns that the US’ past role as a peacemaker may be ceded to China if the US becomes too deeply embroiled in the conflicts of regional partners.

According to CNN, the agreement reached on Friday could signify the end of a long period of conflict in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia and Iran. These two nations have been in ideological and military opposition since Iran’s Islamic Revolution established an anti-Western, Shia theocracy in 1979. Following the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the tensions between the two countries escalated into a proxy war across the region as they vied for influence in the petrol-rich Arab country. This conflict led to armed battles between Saudi-backed militants and Iran-backed armed groups, which lasted for about fifteen years. In Yemen, a Saudi-led coalition military campaign was initiated to suppress Iranian-backed rebels, leading to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. In Syria, Iran supported President Bashar al-Assad, while Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries supported rebels, leading to a lengthy conflict. Additionally, Iran and Saudi Arabia supported opposing factions in Lebanon, exacerbating a two-decade-long political crisis that has had a significant economic and security impact on the country.

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