Delegations are meeting in the hopes of achieving a shared vision on the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two powerful Middle Eastern countries.
Officials at the Iranian foreign ministry say that negotiations with arch-regional competitor Saudi Arabia are ongoing in what they described a “good atmosphere” in the hopes of achieving a shared understanding.
According to reports published in May, Iranian and Saudi officials visited in Baghdad a month earlier, marking the first high-level encounter between the two countries since Saudi leaders severed ties with Iran 5 years ago.
At a press conference on Monday, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said “Talks are still continuing in a good atmosphere. We hope these talks can achieve a common understanding between Iran and Saudi Arabia.”
The relationship between the two countries has gone through various shifts in previous decades effected by regional and global issues. Attack against Saudi embassy in Tehran and the Yemen war has been the main reasons behind the latest round of political tensions between the two countries.
With the advent of war against Yemeni uprising during the so-called Arab-spring which led to the collapse of Mansour Hadi’s government in Sanaa, Saudi Arabia, in fear of the contraction of the contagious uproar in Arab world, decided to interfere in local developments inside Yemen.
Faced with resistance forces inside Yemen in the form of Houthi movement, Saudi Arabia, along with some Arab countries and the United States, set off an all-out war against the country hoping to end the power of opposition forces within months.
Six years after the start of hostilities, the only result has been the “worst humanitarian crisis” in the world, as the UN called it. Islamic Republic of Iran made its attempts in the first stages of war to broker a truce. Encountered with Saudi-led coalition’s insistence to keep on the war, Iran’s supports for the Houthis kicked off.
As such, the two countries were involved in an indirect war for multiple years while the Iranian side has always insisted on priority of attempts to promote peace and agreement in the region. Riyadh, however, preferred to put the insistence on controlling Iran in indirect field of war and direct field of diplomacy and politics, specifically in Trump era.
With the drastic change in the White House in 2021, strategies and policies went through drastic changes too. Biden’s decision to end hostilities in Yemen coincided with the spike of attacks against Saudi facilities by Houthi movement.
A couple of months later, Saudi Arabia found no choice but to start negotiations with Tehran to control the regional hazards against its interests. The talks started in Baghdad on April, 9, less than 80 days after Biden took the office in the United States.
On May 10, the Iranian side confirmed the talks for the first time. “De-escalation and establishing ties between two great Islamic countries in the Persian Gulf region is to the benefit of both nations,” Khatib Zadeh stressed then.
Late in April, Iran expressed satisfaction with a change of policies by Riyadh stressing that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman‘s good relationship with Iran is taken as a good sign of better understanding Iran’s role in the region and entire world.
Less than two months after the start of negotiations, while no outcome has been reported yet, the progression of the talks could still be a good sign for the countries long involved in a regional rivalry. Despaired about the outcome of war, the outcome of peace may be a more inspiring one for Saudi rulers.