March 30, 2023

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Iran and Saudi Arabia agree to restore diplomatic relations

Arch-rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed on Friday to resume diplomatic relations, in a dramatic breakthrough brokered by China after years of escalating tensions between the two powers in the Middle East.

The deal, which would see embassies between the two countries reopen in each other’s capitals, was struck during a meeting in China – in a boost to Beijing’s efforts to rival the United States as a mediator on the world stage.

The agreement may also discourage Israel’s continued efforts to normalize relations with its Arab neighbors.

Talks took place Because of “the common desire to resolve the differences between them through dialogue and diplomacy, and in light of fraternal relations,” according to a joint statement from Tehran, Riyadh and Beijing published by the Saudi Press Agency, the country’s official news. an agency.

Saudi Arabia severed ties with Iran in 2016 after protesters stormed Saudi diplomatic posts in Iran and set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
Atta Kenari/AFP via Getty Images

The agreement came after intense negotiations between Ali Shamkhani, a close advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Saudi Minister of State Massad bin Muhammad Al-Aiban, according to the statement.

She added that the foreign ministers of the two countries “will meet to implement this, arrange for the return of their ambassadors, and discuss ways to strengthen bilateral relations.”

The agreement was first announced on Iranian state television.

Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, have gripped the region for decades.

The two countries are engaged in an intense struggle for hegemony, and their rivalry has been exacerbated by proxy conflicts, including the war in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and the site of its two holiest cities, has historically considered itself the leader of the Islamic world. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 shook Saudi Arabia and other Gulf kingdoms, which saw the regime in Tehran as a rival.

While tensions had been building for years, Saudi Arabia severed ties in 2016 after protesters stormed Saudi diplomatic sites in Iran and set fire to the embassy in Tehran.

A few days ago, Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shiite cleric, Nimr al-Nimr.

“Removing misunderstandings and looking forward to the future in relations between Tehran and Riyadh will certainly lead to the development of regional stability and security and increase cooperation between the Arab Gulf states and the Islamic world to manage existing challenges,” Shamkhani said on Friday after signing the agreement, according to Press TV.

Saudi Arabia, one of the largest oil producers in the UAE, has been a vital ally of America in the region. But after the CIA concluded that its leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had ordered the killing and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, President Joe Biden vowed to make the country an international “pariah”.

Bin Salman, whose attempt to present himself as a reformer was already shattered by the killing, said he took full responsibility for Khashoggi’s killing, but denied any involvement in the killing of the journalist – and is an outspoken critic of the crown prince.

With global oil supplies affected by the Russian war in Ukraine, Biden visited Saudi Arabia in July to restore relations and encourage efforts to end the war in Yemen.

Meanwhile, the United States and Iran have been increasingly at loggerheads over Iran’s advanced nuclear program, anti-regime protests, and Tehran’s delivery of drones to Russia.

After trying to revive the 2015 nuclear deal through diplomacy, the Biden administration has stepped up economic pressure on Iran and sent a signal that military force remains an option if all other means fail to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

The 2015 agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, was designed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and to impose severe restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear activities in return for relief from US and international economic sanctions. Then-President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal in 2018 and reimposed a raft of sanctions.

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