Saudi Arabia-Iran Detente: Old Foes Stay Cautious after Decades of Mistrust

(Financial Times-UK) Andrew England - Riyadh and Tehran have agreed to restore full diplomatic relations under a China-brokered deal. While for years Saudi Arabia and Iran have been arch enemies, top Saudi and Iranian intelligence officials began to hold direct talks to repair ties in early 2021. Diplomats say Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has become more serious about exiting the war in Yemen, where a truce has been holding since last April. "The Saudis are still cautious about what it will produce in practice," said a person familiar with Riyadh's thinking. "But they do want to try to improve the relationship by whatever means possible and clearly saw the China card as a good opportunity to back up an agreement in a way Iran would feel inclined to enforce it because of its relationship with Beijing." It was "not an indication of any pivot away from the West. It's just that China is willing to play a peacemaking role and Saudi is willing for anybody to help." Saudi Arabia still has concerns across the region where Iran backs powerful Shia militant groups, including Hizbullah in Lebanon, and myriad Iraq factions, as well as Tehran's aggressive nuclear program. "It will be a cold peace - Saudi and Iran will never have a real peace. Tensions will decrease, and things will improve a little," said an Arab diplomat. "But it won't stop the underhanded stuff."

2023-03-16 00:00:00

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