Iran Open to Reviving Riyadh Embassy as Diplomats Arrive in Saudi Arabia for First Time Since 2016

© AFP 2023 / STR / Saudi men unfurl a giant Saudi national flag during a ceremony to raise the highest flag in the country in the eastern city of Dammam on June 17, 2008
Saudi men unfurl a giant Saudi national flag during a ceremony to raise the highest flag in the country in the eastern city of Dammam on June 17, 2008 - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.01.2022
Iran and Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations in 2016 after the Saudi Embassy in Tehran was attacked by a mob of protesters following Riyadh’s execution of a senior Shiite cleric. The wars in Syria and Yemen, combined with Saudi Arabia’s support for the GOP’s hard line against Iran, served to further weaken ties.
Tehran is ready to reopen its embassy in Saudi Arabia, and to allow the kingdom to reopen its diplomatic mission in the Islamic Republic, if Riyadh is prepared to take “practical steps” in this direction, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh has said.
“It depends on what practical measures the Saudi side will take,” Khatibzadeh said, speaking at a press briefing on Monday. The spokesman stressed that the Iranian side would do whatever is necessary for the missions to be revived.
Khatibzadeh confirmed that a delegation of Iranian diplomats had arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to represent Iran at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – the 57-member body centred around the idea of Muslim solidarity and economic cooperation.
The diplomats’ visit – the first of its kind since 2016, “can be a good prelude for the two sides to send delegations to visit their embassies,” the spokesman said.
Prospects for Iranian-Saudi Détente
On Saturday, Jalil Rahimi Jahanabadi, a member of the powerful National Security and Foreign Policy Committee in Iran’s parliament, tweeted that he expects the embassies of the two countries to reopen soon, emphasizing that this should have “important effects in reducing regional tensions and increasing the cohesion of the Islamic World.” Jahanabadi called on Iran’s security apparatus and media to be mindful of the activities of the “vicious Israelis and stupid radicals” who he claimed might try to disrupt the potential Iranian-Saudi détente.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have had no diplomatic relations since the January 2016 execution of Saudi Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a critic of the Saudi monarchy who was arrested repeatedly for suggesting that Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province should secede from the kingdom if Shia rights were not respected. Al-Nimr’s killing prompted mobs of angry protesters to attack the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, with Riyadh cutting ties and Tehran reciprocating.
The two powerful, oil-rich regional nations have had a tense relationship since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, with the traditional political and economic competition heated up by religious sectarianism, with Saudi Arabia seeing itself as the leader of Sunni Muslims, and the Islamic Republic considering itself the defender of the region’s Shia Muslims, and, over the past decade, a defender of secular Syria and members of all Abrahamic faiths in general as well against the scourge of terrorism.
The two countries often find themselves on opposing sides of various conflicts – starting with Saudi Arabia’s close alliance with the United States. Riyadh’s disdain over Tehran’s support for Lebanon’s Hezbollah, suspected Saudi aid to militants fighting the Bashar Assad government in Syria during the first years of the war, Tehran’s animosity over the death of hundreds of Iranian Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia in 2015, the Saudi-led war in Yemen and Riyadh’s support for US efforts to rein in Iran’s ballistic missile and peaceful nuclear programmes have all served to exacerbate tensions and distrust.
In spite of the strain, Iran has reiterated repeatedly over the past year that it would be prepared to return its envoy to Riyadh “tomorrow” if its diplomatic overtures were met with reciprocal support by the Saudi side. Tehran has also invited Saudi Arabia to join the Hormuz Peace Initiative, an Iranian-tabled proposal calling on regional powers, not foreigners, to ensure the security of the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, center right, accompanies Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on his arrival to Riyadh International Airport, Saudi Arabia. A first round of direct talks held in April 2021, in Iraq, between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.06.2021
Iran is Ready to Send Envoy to Saudi Arabia 'Tomorrow', Waiting for Signal From Riyadh
Iran and Saudi Arabia began talks on improving relations in 2019. In January 2020, a US drone strike killed Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad while he was on a diplomatic mission aimed at improving Iranian-Saudi ties.
To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала