After a seven-year rift, Middle East regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia decided to restore their diplomatic ties after their bitter row.
Saudi Arabia snapped off connections with Iran in January 2016 after demonstrators stormed its embassy in Tehran following Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shia Muslim cleric.
The cold war between the two countries also affected global ties while the USA and Israel continued to tower powerfully in the political arena.
Last year talks began in April 2021 when China’s President Xi Jinping visited Saudi Arabia in December and hosted Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi last month. This visit finally bore fruit in March with the agreement signed in Beijing on Friday, March 11, 2022. Interestingly, this sudden announcement came after four days of talks between officials from both sides. The two countries foreign ministers will meet to discuss diplomatic missions within two months, it is said.
Tensions between the Sunni and Shia-led neighbors have since often been escalating regarding each other as threatening powers trying to take over regional dominance. They also support rival sides across the Middle East, including in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq – and most overtly in Yemen.
Previous attempts at reconciliation have been unsuccessful, but on Friday the two countries said they would reopen embassies within two months. They will also re-establish trade and security relations.
How Will This Affect Relations with Israel and America?
While the US cautiously welcomed the announcement and the White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the USA supported “any effort to de-escalate tensions in the region” he also said, “It really does remain to be seen if Iran is going to meet their obligations.”
UN chief Antonio Guterres appreciated and thanked China for brokering the deal. The UN is ready to help efforts “to ensure durable peace and security in the Gulf region”, his spokesman said.
Israel, which has called for maximum pressure on Iran over its nuclear program, has not commented. In all this, it is noted that China was the privileged messenger. From the East and Middle East, it signifies a tone of victory without overshadowing of the rule of divide and rule, with positive overtones for Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen. There is a triumphant cry that NATO will crumble down and fall.
Will This Be a New Global Economic Order?
This achievement of bringing Iran and Saudi Arabia to resolve differences through dialogue and diplomacy with the help of China opens new avenues.
It is interesting that the Saudi-Iran peace that was brokered by China today may be a new beginning for oil being sold for Chinese yuan with Chinese dominance, something that America was trying to quell. This new venture could enable both Saudi Arabia and Iran to join BRICS.
BRIC group was renamed as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) after South Africa was accepted as a full member at the BRIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting in New York in September 2010. If this happens, then BRICS with the three oil giants — Russia and Saudi will change the entire economic equation with the rise of the Middle East.
New Golden Era for the Ummah?
This new union could enable the golden era of the Ummah. In reference to Islam, ummah refers to the entire Muslim world or the community of believers. As a theological concept, the ummah is meant to transcend national, racial, and class divisions to unite all Muslims.
Some Muslims comment that the unity of the Ummah is the biggest defeat of Tagoot, they call idolatry of the worship anything except Allah. Some Muslims feel that for decades, the Muslim Ummah was declining but with this powerful friendship, the golden period of the Ummahs will rise again.
China Could Take A Role as the Diplomatic Superpower
With China playing a powerful new role as a peacemaker, and not the USA, history seems to be taking a turn. China suddenly looks like the new diplomatic superpower and big brother of the world and not the USA with the US hegemony in the Middle East built on the USA-Saudi-Israel ties versus Iran now falling apart with the new peace deal.
It Could be the Crown Prince’s Desire to Transform Saudi Arabia into a Global Power
It appears that the shift toward resolving regional conflicts is also driven by the crown prince’s desire to transform Saudi Arabia into a global power in its own right, instead of the American ‘client state’ that critical members of Congress have dismissed it as.”
How will this Affect Israel?
Israel wants Iran to be completely isolated from the rest of the international community highlighting the Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons force which is a threat not just to Israel but to the rest of the world. This is feared by Isreal though Iran always maintains that their nuclear program is for peaceful purposes with an aim to build society and not war.
The pressure will build on Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu who claims that he is the tough guy who can only deal with Iran in the international area. However, he is under pressure from America to expand the Abraham Accords which was a series of treaties normalizing diplomatic relations between Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco, facilitated by the U.S. Administration between August and December 2020. In the span of five short months, these four Arab states joined Egypt and Jordan in making peace with Israel. The agreements were called “The Abraham Accords” in honor of Abraham – the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) which was the resumption of the USA to establish diplomatic relations with UAE, and Bahrain, the Americans expect him to expand that to Saudi Arabia
He wants relations with Qatar, and with other Muslim nations such as Indonesia, and Pakistan, which is not happening, so this will be a huge setback to Mr. Netanyahu.
Presently, Benjamin Netanyahu is in Italy and has not offered any comments on this issue.
How will it Affect the USA, Saudi Arabia, and Israel’s Relations?
James Bays Diplomatic Editor from the United Nations in New York expresses how fascinatingly complex this move is pointing out that 78 years earlier, Saudi and the USA had close ties, promising energy to America and the USA giving security to Saudi. They both agreed to disagree with Saudi supporting the Palestinians over Israel. In recent years, and even over the last few days has been trying to change this position by trying to get Saudi Arabia to join the Abraham Accords which the UAE has already joined.
With talks of Saudi Arabia asking for a civil nuclear program, there are new arms sales and things are moving in a nuclear direction. However, Saudi Arabia reaching out to Iran will infuriate Israel, all this happening in the backdrop of the war in Yemen with a shaky truce. It has been nearly eight years since Saudi has been militarily involved in Yemen blaming Iran for supplying the Houthis with weapons that have even affected Saudi territory.
The war in Ukraine also would stir complexities because while once Saudi Arabia was a very close ally of the USA but presently, there are strains with the Biden administration with the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi after which President Biden was distancing himself from Saudi Arabia. In recent days, the Saudi foreign minister was in Russia while Iran is supplying drones to Russia.
From all this, it appears that Saudi Arabia is distancing itself from being the USA’s close ally and this is certainly going to change all global equations. Where India will stand in all this is yet to be seen squashed somewhere in the middle due to diplomatic ties with both the USA and Saudi Arabia.
Seems Most Countries Are Supporting Ukraine but Something is Changing
While it seems most countries are supporting Ukraine, something is changing. The USA was unable to negotiate peace allowing a war while selling arms, making money out of the war, and triggering global criticism. With the war, countries are not looking to the USA as the superpower anymore, but rather looking to China, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia too is growing in stature due to oil-money power. India too continued to buy oil from Russia and both countries share friendly ties.
Through this, it is perceived that maybe the “new” Middle Eastern and also the “new” Asian countries will break free from the interferences of global powers. With refreshing new ties, they may be able to build and balance their alliances freely without being pulled like puppets on a string. Peace is not war and every peaceful venture should be promoted.