Why are regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia trying to break the ice now?
Since April, rival Saudi Arabia and Iran have held four rounds of talks in Baghdad.
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Diplomatic efforts to break the ice between Iran and Saudi Arabia, longtime regional rivals, have stepped up in recent months, with officials from both countries citing progress in talks mediated by Iraq.
Since April, four rounds of talks have taken place in Baghdad to defuse tensions that erupted in January 2016 after attacks on two Saudi diplomatic missions in Tehran and Mashhad, which were sparked by Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shia cleric.
Even though many contentious issues, most notably Yemen, remain unresolved, there is already a buzz about the two sides agreeing to reopen consulates as a first step toward restoring diplomatic ties.
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s foreign minister, acknowledged last week during a visit to Lebanon that talks with Saudi Arabia had “come a long way,” with the hope of easing regional tensions.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister also stated that his country is serious about talks with Iran, a move seen as a sign that the two rivals are working to mend fences.
“The talks are serious to us.”
It’s not a significant change for us.
In an interview published Friday in the British newspaper The Financial Times, Prince Faisal bin Farhan stated, “We’ve always said we want to find a way to stabilize the region.”
The United States’ strategy has changed.
The Tehran-Riyadh talks, according to Javad Heirannia, a Tehran-based foreign affairs analyst, must be viewed in the context of a “change in the US approach” to the Persian Gulf region.
“Dialogue between Iran and Saudi Arabia is critical to lowering the cost of the US withdrawal from the region, especially given Washington’s increased focus on China and Russia,” he told Anadolu Agency.
“On the other hand, when the US military withdraws, the region’s countries are forced to restart diplomacy,” he added.
The talks between Tehran and Riyadh take place in the midst of a deadlock over the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as well as rising tensions between Iran and Israel over recent attacks on Iranian nuclear sites.
Regional and international developments, according to Ali Bakir, an international relations professor at Qatar University, prompted the two rivals to begin talks.
“I believe the two countries’ talks have resurfaced as a result of regional and international developments that have necessitated it.”
A brief summary of Infosurhoy.