An analysis of Iran-Saudi Arabia talks

Strategic Council Online—Opinion: Direct talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which began for the first time in March 2021 with the aim of easing tensions in bilateral relations, are continuing. So far, five rounds of the Tehran-Riyadh political dialogue have been hosted by the Iraqi government in Baghdad. Although the negotiations have not yet led to tangible results, the parties have assessed the atmosphere of the negotiations as positive and forward-looking in their positions. Hamid Khoshayand-Expert of regional issues

The fifth round of talks that took place recently had several major differences compared to previous talks:

  1. The talks took place in a “positive and calm atmosphere”. This is while the previous talks, which were influenced by regional developments, including the war in Yemen and the internal developments in Saudi Arabia, especially the anti-Shia actions of the Saudi leaders, were held in a very cold and disappointing atmosphere.
  2. The fifth round of talks was held at a higher level than the previous rounds and was attended by “senior security officials” of the two countries. The advisor to the Deputy Chair of the Supreme National Security Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Head of the Saudi Intelligence Service attended the meetings as plenipotentiary representatives of the two countries. Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazimi also attended the meeting.
  3. Unlike previous talks, which focused mainly on current developments, especially the Yemeni war, the new round saw a “clearer vision for the resumption of relations” and the reopening of consular and diplomatic centers.
  4. In this round of talks, the change of position and the “softness of Saudi Arabia” regarding the improvement of bilateral relations as soon as possible and the achievement of political understanding and the reopening of diplomatic centers were quite evident.

 

The main feature of the fifth round of talks was the conclusion of talks on security issues and the emphasis on technical and diplomatic negotiations. Improving relations with Iran could, in the first instance, lead to “security openings” in the region, including in the case of Yemen, which has effectively become a deep quagmire for the Saudis; At the same time, at the level of bilateral relations, it promotes good security, political, economic, trade and good opportunities for the two countries.

In this respect, two points are of significance:

First, the orientation of the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran since the beginning of the revolution towards Saudi Arabia was based on a “reasonable, logical and realistic” course along with “vote stability” in order to maintain, promote and strengthen political, economic, cultural and cooperation relations. But in rare cases, the relationship has encountered some arbitrary movements.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia not only did not have the necessary vote stability in this regard, but also at various times with provocative actions such as the killing of Iranian pilgrims in Mina in 1987, violence and discrimination against Saudi Shias, violation of security red lines and Iran’s policy in the region, efforts to incite sedition inside Iran and cooperation with the United States and the Zionist regime in the field of anti-Iranian measures (sanctions, assassinations, etc.), has also led to the severance of diplomatic and bilateral relations.

The most accurate interpretation that can be used to evaluate the Tehran-Riyadh relations in the last 90 years (before and after the Islamic Revolution) is that the relations between the two countries have mainly witnessed “transient friendships and cooperation and enduring hostilities and tensions.”

Numerous factors have been involved in the severance and weakening of bilateral relations, which have been caused by three categories of internal, regional and international variables. To these must be added the fundamental issues (differences over the view of the leadership of the Islamic world, Shia-Sunni rivalry, and ideological tensions) and differences related to developments in the region.

Second, although the differences between the two countries are complex, multilayered and deep, they can be resolved; Provided that Saudi leaders have the necessary “will and motivation” along with “good faith” and independence of action. Saudi Arabia should not ignore the elements and actors who do not see the resumption of Saudi relations with Iran in their favor in the region and internationally; The Zionist regime is at the head of the mentioned actors and elements and seeks in any way “stoning” and obstruction in the way of improving the relations between the two countries.

The US utilitarian and businesslike behavior, on the one hand, and the increasing security vulnerability of some regimes and regional partners in Riyadh, which has weakened Saudi Arabia, on the other, have led Riyadh to resort to regional arrangements, especially dialogue with Iran, as a way to resolve internal and regional problems.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has also shown that it is making effective efforts to solve the problems of countries that build trust and show goodwill. Contrary to the views of some regional and international political and media circles, Iran is a “peaceful” state and welcomes any initiative that is “result-oriented” and leads to regional stability and security while maintaining its red lines.

Finally, Saudi Arabia is expected to seize the “unique opportunity” created by dialogue and engagement with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Because the door to dialogue and compromise is not open forever, and prolonging the negotiation process in the hope of political and security exploitation will not be in the common interest.

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