Do we actually need to be optimistic about the Saudi-Iranian reconciliation?

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In a landmark move from last week, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and reopen embassies within a few months. The agreement was struck in Beijing following days of intensive discussions between Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani and his Saudi counterpart.

The Chinese-brokered pact comes seven years after Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016 after furious protesters stormed its embassy in Tehran. The people were enraged by the execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr by the Saudi government.

China deserves credit not just for pulling this off, but for pulling it off in just three months. Following talks between Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing last February, Shamkhani held meticulous discussions with his Saudi counterpart to find a long-lasting solution to a number of issues impacting Tehran-Riyadh relations.

However, all of us must remember that the agreement is still in its early days. We cannot expect decades of tensions to disappear overnight.

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Nevertheless, what has emerged over the past few days is reassuring. Iran’s Foreign Ministry has said that positive vibes with Saudi Arabia could lead to a solution in war-ravaged Yemen, from where the Tehran-backed Houthi rebels target Saudi civilians and cities.

When Iranian actions target Saudi oil infrastructure, China is affected too as it receives more than 1.7 million barrels of oil a day from Saudi Arabia, which is essential for the East Asian country to continue functioning and manufacturing.

If anyone has leverage over Iran, it is China. China is Iran’s biggest trade partner. It has pledged to invest $400 billion in the country over 25 years.

Officials in Riyadh took much longer than those in Tehran to be convinced about the agreement. It makes sense considering Iran’s not-so-reassuring track record of adhering to deals. At any rate, for this potentially groundbreaking deal to be successful, the international community must support it in every way possible. The pact could have a positive impact on not just the region but the entire world.



Hashim Sheikh: He is a comprehensive personality whose personality has many social, philosophical and mystical aspects besides scientific and cultural characteristics. He writes many articles and also writes poetry from time to time.

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