Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) welcomes Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 25 June 2022. (Photo credit: Reuters)
Iraq’s caretaker prime minister, Mustafa Kadhimi, arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 25 June, where he was received by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), according to the state news service Iraqi News Agency (INA).
The two held talks on several issues. However, the main topic suspected to have been on their agenda is the ongoing negotiation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, whose aim is the restoration of diplomatic ties.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman received the Iraqi Premier Mustafa Kadhimi earlier today. Can be seen at the end of this clip driving him from the airport to the Royal Palace in Jeddah, a very special personal gesture, shows how warm the relationship is between both sides. https://t.co/rzkFK6JkGA
— Eyad Alrefai (@EyadAlRefaei) June 25, 2022
No details were reported on the reason for their meeting or the content of discussions. However, Kadhimi’s visit to Tehran today, 26 June, indicates that the trips to both Saudi Arabia and Iran are likely to be related to the bilateral negotiations between Riyadh and Tehran, given Baghdad’s role as mediator of the talks.
Prior to leaving to Tehran, Kadhimi performed the Umrah pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca accompanied by other delegates. The move was criticized on social media as being for show and lacking sincerity.
… وَمَا كَانَ صَلَاتُهُمْ عِندَ الْبَيْتِ إِلَّا مُكَاءً وَتَصْدِيَةً.. pic.twitter.com/iabaHTKLtN
— @Aljamry (@JAljamry) June 26, 2022
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was informed by his Iraqi counterpart on 16 June that the Iraqi government “is determined to facilitate direct talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Baghdad.”
The Iraqi prime minister stated on 7 June that the talks have achieved remarkable progress and are entering advanced stages.
On 24 May, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faysal Bin Farhan al-Saud said there was “some but not enough” progress in the talks with Iran, although he also referred to the talks as a “new era of cooperation.”
His remarks came after Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh confirmed that Tehran had held a fifth round of “positive” talks with Riyadh in Baghdad.
Tehran and Riyadh severed diplomatic relations in 2016, but in recent months, the two countries have expressed a desire to improve relations.
Ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia were cut after Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, which led to angry protesters attacking the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
The fifth round of talks were held in April, after their suspension a month earlier.
Iran’s decision to suspend the talks was made after Saudi Arabia conducted a mass execution of 81 men, half of whom were members of the Shia community, over what the kingdom called “allegiance to foreign terrorist organizations and … deviant beliefs.”
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been frosty for years over a variety of issues, including the war on Yemen, where Riyadh and its allies have been fighting the Ansarallah resistance movement since March 2015.