(Photo Credit: SPA)
Nations from across the Arab world are hailing the restoration of diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia after seven years of tensions.
Following several rounds of talks hosted by Iraq, Oman, and China on 10 March, officials from the two West Asian powerhouses agreed to reopen their embassies and missions within the next two months.
“The countries of the region have one destiny, and common denominators that make it necessary for us to join together to build a model of prosperity and stability for our peoples to enjoy,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan tweeted following the bombshell announcement from Beijing.
يأتي استئناف العلاقات الدبلوماسية بين المملكة وإيران، انطلاقا من رؤية المملكة القائمة على تفضيل الحلول السياسية والحوار، وحرصها على تكريس ذلك في المنطقة. يجمع دول المنطقة مصير واحد، وقواسم مشتركة، تجعل من الضرورة أن نتشارك سويا لبناء أنموذجٍ للازدهار والاستقرار لتنعم به شعوبنا.
— فيصل بن فرحان (@FaisalbinFarhan) March 10, 2023
“The return of normal relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia provides great capacities to the two countries, the region, and the Islamic world,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian tweeted on Friday, highlighting that President Ebrahim Raisi’s ‘look east’ policy “is strongly moving in the right direction.”
بازگشت روابط طبیعی میان ج.ا.ایران و عربستان سعودی ظرفیتهای بزرگی را در اختیار دو کشور، منطقه و جهان اسلام قرار می دهد. سیاست همسایگی بعنوان محور کلیدی سیاست خارجی دولت سیزدهم، با قوت در مسیر درست پیش می رود و دستگاه دیپلماسی فعالانه در پس تمهید گام های بیشتر منطقهای است.
— H.Amirabdollahian امیرعبداللهیان (@Amirabdolahian) March 10, 2023
The Syrian Foreign Ministry welcomed the agreement, calling it “an important step that will lead to strengthening security and stability in the region and to cooperation that will reflect positively on the common interests of the peoples of the two countries in particular and the peoples of the region in general.”
Anwar Gargash, the diplomatic adviser to UAE leader Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ), took to Twitter to hail the new page in Iran-Saudi relations, saying Abu Dhabi “believes in the importance of positive communication and dialogue among the countries of the region towards consolidating the concepts of good neighborliness.”
Similar reactions poured in from Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Turkiye, and Egypt, as officials from these nations all expressed hopes that this step would contribute to easing tension in the region.
“This is a win-win for everyone and will benefit regional and global security,” said Omani Foreign Minister Badr Albusaidi. “We hope in the longer term there’s also potential for increasing economic benefits for all,” he added.
Leaders from the Resistance Axis also welcomed the move. During a televised speech on Friday, Hezbollah’s Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah, said this was “an important development, and if it proceeds in its natural course, it can open new horizons for the region and Lebanon.”
The chief negotiator for Yemen’s Ansarallah resistance movement, Mohammad Abdul Salam, said diplomatic ties between countries in West Asia are needed.
“The region needs the resumption of normal ties between its countries for the Islamic nation to reclaim its lost security due to foreign interference,” he said, stressing that foreign actors “have taken advantage” of differences in the region and used them to fuel conflict.
Palestinian resistance group Hamas also issued a statement following Friday’s announcement, calling the restoration of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia “an important step on the path to unifying the [region’s] ranks, enhancing security … and achieving stability in the region.”
The Palestinian Authority (PA) issued a similar statement, highlighting “the positive role” of China in contributing toward reaching the agreement.
Israel was the only nation in West Asia where the announcement caused alarm.
A senior official in Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government blamed the combined “weakness” of the previous Israeli government and US President Joe Biden for the deal between Tehran and Riyadh.
“There was a feeling of American and Israeli weakness, so Saudi Arabia turned to other channels,” the unnamed senior Israeli official told reporters traveling with Netanyahu in Italy.
The same official also claimed that Israel’s bid to normalize ties with Saudi Arabia “will not be hurt” by the restoration of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia. “What happens on the diplomatic level is not what happens under the surface,” he said, according to Israeli public broadcaster Kan and Reshet 13 News.
Meanwhile, former Israeli premier Yair Lapid — who has been participating in mass anti-government protests over recent weeks — placed the blame for the deal at Netanyahu’s feet.
“The agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran reflects the complete and dangerous failure of the Israeli government’s foreign policy,” Lapid said.
“[This far-right government is focused] not on Iran, not on the terror attacks, not on the economy, not the cost of living. All they care about is destroying democracy and tearing the people apart. Oh, and holiday weekends in Rome, too,” he added.
Similarly, Lapid’s predecessor, Naftali Bennett, called the news a “serious and dangerous development for Israel” and a “political victory for Iran.”
“This delivers a fatal blow to efforts to build a regional coalition against Iran,” Bennett said.