According to the Financial Times, Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran secretly held talks in Baghdad last week. Though both countries have denied such an arrangement, it appears that these rumours however might pave the way for some serious discussions in the future.
If you ever had a chance to speak with political experts and ask them to name the most volatile region in the world, they would all give you the same answer: Middle-East. Blessed or rather cursed with rich petroleum resources and home to all three major sects of the Abrahamic Religions, Middle-East never had a moment of respite in its long tumultuous history. A few years back however all hell broke loose and the region’s primary powers went at each other’s throats, burning almost all the bridges behind them. Though there have been attempts to restore those relations, none so far has succeeded as these two players, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran, are ideologically opposed to each other. Still, rumours continue to baffle everyone.
Today, after so long, it was announced that perhaps a window of opportunity for reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia has been opened. According to a piece ran by the Financial Times, Saudi officials along with their Iranian counterparts met with each other nearly a week ago in a meeting hosted by Iraqis in order to discuss the recent turn of event, most notably Houthis increasing attacks on Saudi Aramco, in order to reach an understanding. This supposedly super-secret talk was attended by Khalid bin Ali al-Humaidan, Saudi Arabia’s chief of intelligence services of all people, and a couple of Iranian senior officials who apparently could not be named.
Interestingly enough both countries have denied the meeting yet play coy when it comes to the prospect of possible negotiations. Speaking with journalists on Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry’s Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that ever since the falling out between the two countries, Iran has been extending its hands toward Saudi Arabia, even proposing daring initiatives such as the so-called Hormuz Peace Initiative that was supposed to regulate the trading within the Persian Gulf but was otherwise rejected by the Saudi Arabia. “What is important is that the Islamic Republic of Iran has always welcomed dialogue with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and considers it in the interest of the people of the two countries, as well as peace and stability in the region” Khatibzadeh told the reporters. Similar pulses were somewhat given by Saudi Authorities, though even they have also rejected the claims about the recent meeting between two.
Ever since the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and the subsequent storming of Saudi Arabia’s embassy both countries have been at each other’s throats. Saudi Arabia pursued a policy of normalization of relations with Israel, supervising and even carrying out secret operations against Iran. Meanwhile, independent cells and rebel fighters turned to Iran’s support and the country embraced them with open arms. One of the biggest proxy wars was waged in the wake of this animosity with neither side having the upper hand over the other. Even in the words of Saudi commentators, Israel was perhaps the sole victor of this struggle who exploited Saudi Arabia’s need for allies against a perceived threat to the fullest.
Now Israel is unabashedly pursuing its agenda in Jerusalem, knowing that the Arabian countries will fall in line since Saudi Arabia won’t be there to boss them around. Meanwhile, Saudis have grown extremely desperate thanks to the recent surge in the number of attacks against their assets conducted by the Houthis movement, a close ally of Iran. Those outcomes along with a couple of other incidents for both countries may have knocked some sense into the players, prompting them not to waste such an opportunity and perhaps for those reasons alone, neither of the two countries nor us can certainly say that peace or at least a temporary ceasefire based on mutual understanding is far from happening in the near future.