New round of Iran-Saudi talks is expected in the coming weeks. The arch-rival started talks following a Saudi shift of policies.
Saudi Arabia is planning another round of negotiations with Iran a year after they started. Despite what Riyadh described as a “lack of substantive progress” in prior rounds, the foreign minister stated that the country means to proceed with the talks.
Following the implementation of death penalty for a Shiite figure by Saudi monarchy in 2016, Riyadh and Tehran suspended relations. In 2021, Iraq brokered and hosted negotiations between the two regional giants.
Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud also referred to the ongoing nuclear negotiation in Vienna. He suggested that a potential revival of JCPOA should be the starting point in meeting regional crises. Riyadh has always attacked the deal due to its lack of capability in containing Iran as a threat.
“That will indeed require from our neighbors in Iran a serious desire to address the underlying issues that exist. We hope that there is a serious desire to find a new modus operandi,” bin Farhan said about the Iran-Saudi talks.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have been involved in a number of proxy wars around the region, especially in Yemen. Saudi Arabian war against people in Yemen following their popular uprising escalated the tensions between Tehran and Riyadh.
The escalations took deeper side between the two nations reaching new heights in 2019 following attacks on Aramco oil facilities. Riyadh bears Responsibility for the strike on Iran due to supporting the Houthi movement, a claim Tehran keeps denying.
In 2021, however, Riyadh went through a strategic shift of policies following the removal of former US president from office. Finding its most prominent supporter, Donald Trump, out of the White House, Riyadh adopted policy of peacemaking with regional rivals.
Iran-Saudi talks; A Bid for Peace Despite Rifts
Despite Riyadh’s attempts to normalize the ties with Tehran, Saudi authorities keep the fire on the regional rival. Prince Faisal reiterated the claims against Iran in the recent remarks at the Munich Security Conference.
“This does not contribute to finding a path to settle that conflict, but we are committed and we are supportive of the United Nations representative,” Faisal said regarding the failed attempt to secure a ceasefire in Yemen. Saudi Arabia started the war against Yemen in 2015, but is unable to end it after seven years.
Yemen’s persistent war has claimed hundreds of thousands and left millions homeless in less than seven years. The world’s greatest humanitarian crisis, as UN labelled it, continues to intensify across the country.
Iran-Saudi talks occurred in four round during a year, with Baghdad expecting that its involvement would prevent the neighbors from expanding disputes to its soil. The talks were friendly but tentative according to Saudi Arabia, while Tehran embraced the process as fruitful.
Iranian president also announced the country’s will to continue with respectful talks with Saudi Arabia to expand the mutual understanding. “Iran is ready to continue these negotiations until reaching an outcome, provided that the Saudis are willing to continue the negotiations in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect,” Ebrahim Raisi said according to the local media.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have expressed optimism that the discussions will help to de-escalate tensions, but have downplayed the prospect of a meaningful political achievement. Saudi Arabia is not consistent with its regional strategies making it impossible to reach a long-term agenda.
Riyadh’s inclination to west combined with seeking regional benefits put the country in s self-contradictory state. Post-Trump era proved challenging for Riyadh far more than its leaders expected.