News ID: 322527
Published: 0249 GMT June 25, 2022

Iran, Saudi Arabia should talk face-to-face

Iran, Saudi Arabia should talk face-to-face

Mostafa Moslehzadeh

Middle East affairs expert

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is to visit Tehran today. Some media outlets have announced that Kadhimi plans to discuss the matter of talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which were facilitated by Iraq.

Several issues overshadow the relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia including diplomatic relations between the two countries and the challenges and prospects facing it.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are two major key countries in the Muslim world. Even though Turkey has sought to become another key country, it still lacks the capacities of Iran and Saudi Arabia, capacities that even Egypt is deprived of. Therefore, the relationship between two regional powerhouses of Iran and Saudi Arabia affects other Islamic countries and their ties and developments. The more cordial the relationship between the two countries is, the more it serves themselves, the region, and the Islamic world.

Thus, there is no doubt that the two countries should maintain diplomatic relations even despite the major challenges facing them. Reason dictates that the relationship should be re-established as soon as possible. Of course, it was Saudi Arabia that severed diplomatic relations. The Islamic Republic of Iran has always tried to maintain diplomatic relations even with countries with which it disagrees on political matters.

Tehran and Riyadh have had several challenges on crude oil, for instance, and still do. The two countries have not followed a unified strategy on crude oil prices and production levels over the past four decades. The other challenge facing them is the security of the Persian Gulf region. Iran has always defended the notion of sharing the responsibility of ensuring security with other countries in the Persian Gulf region. Saudi Arabia, however, believes in the presence of transregional countries, namely the United States, to ensure the security of the region.

Iran’s nuclear file, the Palestinian issue, political crises in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and the annual Hajj pilgrimage are among the other bones of contention between the two countries. Perhaps the most important challenge right now is the crisis in Yemen, where, fortunately, a cease-fire has been in place for some time.

Resolving these challenges is not possible without diplomatic ties and face-to-face talks. If the two sides fail to establish diplomatic relations, it might add to the list of the challenges between the two countries and make the current ones even more daunting. Therefore, wisdom dictates that the talks on resolving these challenges should lead to the establishment of diplomatic relations

The prospects of possible relations depend on whether Tehran and Riyadh will restore diplomatic relations, and whether they are serious enough in addressing the challenges and reducing tensions. No doubt, regional nations can play a catalytic role in the Iran-Saudi Arabia talks being fruitful as Iraq and Oman had played such a role. In addition, trans-regional actors such as the United States and Israel can also adversely affect the talks.

Anyhow, the resolution of disputes between the two major countries of the Muslim world had required Tehran and Riyadh to negotiate long ago, even without a go-between, and resume diplomatic relations. Now we hope that this will be achieved through the mediation efforts of Iraq.

 

   
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