CAIRO, March 13 (Xinhua) — After years of open hostility, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed last week to restore diplomatic ties after talks facilitated by China, a significant development for the two nations and a boon to the security and stability of the Middle East.
In a joint statement released with China on Friday, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to reopen their embassies and diplomatic missions within two months, hold talks between their foreign ministers on the arrangement of ambassadors’ exchange, and explore ways to improve bilateral ties. The Saudi-Iranian agreement to restore diplomatic relation was hailed by Wang Yi, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, as “a victory for dialogue and peace” and has been widely welcomed worldwide.The European Union (EU) on Saturday joined countries including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Iraq, Cuba and Pakistan to welcome the agreement, saying in a statement posted on its website that it “acknowledges the diplomatic efforts leading to this important step.”The United Nations (UN) has also praised China’s role in the process.”The secretary-general has expressed his appreciation to the People’s Republic of China for hosting these recent talks and for promoting dialogue between the two countries,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said after the agreement was reached.
DEAL GOES BEYOND THE SECURITY SPHERE
Saudi Arabia and Iran have been at odds over a range of issues for years and have backed opposing sides in conflicts in countries like Yemen and Syria.In early 2016, Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran in response to attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran after the kingdom executed a Shiite cleric.Before they clinched the deal in Beijing, the two countries had held five rounds of talks in Iraq to improve bilateral relations since 2021.”The Saudi-Iranian agreement achieved with Chinese mediation is a significant development in regional geopolitics,” wrote Faisal J. Abbas, editor-in-chief of Arab News, in an article published on the website of the Saudi-based English language daily newspaper on Saturday, adding that it “could be a true game-changer, heralding an era of regional peace and prosperity not seen in decades.”
As Iran and Saudi Arabia are two powerful nations in the Middle East and the Muslim world, a peaceful and friendly relationship could bring more peace and stability to the region and the world, said Mohammad Reza Manafi, editor-in-chief for the Asia-Pacific news desk of Iran’s official news agency IRNA.”The move means a lot to both countries, as it will ease tensions between Shias and Sunnis,” said Adnan Bourji, director of the Lebanese National Center for Studies.The reconciliation between the two regional rivals could set an example for other countries to follow in solving conflicts through dialogue, Bourji said.The ease of tensions will give Iran more room to handle repercussions of harsh sanctions imposed by the United States, while it will also calm the Saudi borders with Yemen, where Saudi-led coalition is engaged in a military conflict with Iran-backed Houthi militia, analysts say.Khaled Hamade, a Lebanese military analyst and retired brigadier general, told Xinhua that the China-brokered Saudi-Iran deal includes points related directly to the Yemeni crisis, such as the respect of other countries’ sovereignty, and non-interference in other countries’ domestic affairs.
GOODWILL TO PROMOTE GLOBAL SECURITY
Wang Yi, who chaired both the opening and closing ceremonies of the Saudi-Iranian talks in Beijing, said the dialogue between the two countries in Beijing has “become a successful practice for the strong implementation of the Global Security Initiative (GSI).”The initiative, which was proposed by China in 2022, seeks to address the complex and intertwined security challenges with a win-win mindset.”We will continue to play a constructive role in properly handling hotspot issues in today’s world in accordance with the wishes of all countries and demonstrate our responsibility as a major country,” Wang said.Analysts believe China’s successful hosting of the talks, which led to the breakthrough, highlights Beijing’s goodwill and endeavor to promote peace in the Middle East through political dialogue, as well as its efforts to advance the implementation of the GSI that seeks to eliminate the root causes of international conflicts and promote durable peace and development in the world.
China’s successful mediation in the Saudi-Iranian deal proves that the world is open to an order characterized by multilateralism championed by China, instead of an order characterized by unilateralism the United States has enforced over the past decades, said Bourji.The Saudi-Iranian deal’s success has reflected the different approaches adopted by the United States and China in the Middle East, he added.”China handles (its diplomatic relations) in a spirit of friendship, persuasion, and the realization of mutual interests, while the United States handles (its diplomatic relations) in a spirit of imposition, hegemony, and ensuring American and Israeli interests at the expense of Arab dignity and interests,” he added.The solutions proposed by China, which seek to solve international problems through mutual benefit, peaceful consultation, non-violent and non-military means, have gained more and more recognition around the world, said Dai Xiaoqi, professor at the School of Middle Eastern Studies of Beijing International Studies University.China’s “balanced relations” with both Saudi Arabia and Iran allowed it to accomplish the significant achievement, said Osama Danura, a political expert based in the Syrian capital Damascus.