Iran and Saudi Arabia resume relations after years of conflict
The breakthrough in mutual relations between the leading Islamic nations comes after decades of rivalry and conflict
By News Desk - March 10 2023

Illustrative image of flags of Iran and Saudi Arabia (Photo Credit Getty images)

Iran and Saudi Arabia announced the resumption of relations after a series of secret talks held in Beijing between the two rival Islamic nations, which concluded on 10 March, Al-Araby al-Jadid has reported.

According to a tripartite statement issued by China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, the secretary of Iran’s National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, arrived in Beijing on 6 March for “intensive talks for a final solution to the issues between Tehran and Riyadh,” with his Saudi counterpart, National Security Adviser Musaed bin Mohammed Al-Aiban and the head of China’s Office of the Central Committee for Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi.

The statement indicated that the Iranian-Saudi talks in China came at the initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping and have been underway for several years, with Iraq and Oman hosting preliminary talks between the two parties in 2021 and 2022.

The two countries affirmed respect for sovereignty, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, and to work to implement the previous Security Cooperation Agreement concluded in 2001, as well as the General Agreement on Economic, Commercial, and Cultural Cooperation, concluded in 1998.

Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China also declared their firm will to make every effort to promote regional and international peace and security, according to the released statement.

National Security Council Secretary Shamkhani also stated that the Iranian president’s visit to China last month paved the way for new and serious negotiations between Tehran and Riyadh, and that the resumption of relations would remove misunderstanding and expand regional stability and cooperation in the Gulf and the Islamic world.

Diplomatic relations between Tehran and Riyadh were severed in 2016, after Riyadh executed prominent Saudi Shiite cleric Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, and Iranian demonstrators attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in the eastern city of Mashhad in response.

According to Iran’s Tasnim News Agency, Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Yemen starting in 2015 as well as the death of hundreds of Iranian Hajj pilgrims in a deadly crush in Saudi Arabia’s Mina in September of the same year, also led to the deterioration of relations between Tehran and Riyadh.

But the Iran-Saudi rivalry had helped fuel conflict and promote sectarianism in the region for decades, starting with Saudi support for Al-Qaeda groups in Iraq following the illegal 2003 US invasion, and followed by Saudi support for Al-Qaeda groups in Syria as part of the US-led war against the Syrian government in 2011.

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