Iran and Saudi Arabia: Rivals no more?

Iran and Saudi Arabia have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations after seven years of hostility. The deal was reached with the help of China.


In a key diplomatic victory, a deal was struck between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Beijing. The deal was brokered between the two powers after four days of Chinese-mediated talks. 

Riyadh and Tehran agreed to reopen their embassies and re-establish diplomatic relations. The agreement includes mutual respect for sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs. The deal also activates a 2001 previously-signed security cooperation and trade agreement. 

"It indicates that China's presence in the Gulf, in the wider Middle East is growing.... It indicates to the U.S. that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf partners have other options." Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, Fellow for the Middle East, Baker Institute, Rice University told the AP. 

Saudi Arabia broke off ties with Iran in 2016 after protesters stormed its diplomatic posts in Tehran. The demonstrations were in response to Saudi Arabia executing a Shiite cleric. Relations between the two countries have been fractured since then. 

The division culminated in both nations fighting a proxy war in Yemen. The two countries also have competing interests in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. The normalization was welcomed by Egypt, Bahrain, the UAE... and China. 

“China will continue to play a constructive role in handling hotspot issues, ‘demonstrate our responsibility’ as a major nation.” Said Wang Yi,  China's Top Diplomat 

Wang Yi described the agreement as a victory for peace and dialogue. 

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