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The Saudi Iranian Agreement: Tactical or Preemptive

The Saudi Iranian Agreement: Tactical or Preemptive?

The Saudi Iranian Agreement: Tactical or Preemptive

On Friday, March 11, a significant breakthrough in international diplomacy was announced when Saudi Arabia and Iran announced their agreement to resume diplomatic relations through Chinese mediation.
The joint statement stated that the two countries would resume diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies within two months, thus ending a diplomatic estrangement since 2016, a step that is likely to have important implications for international relations in the Middle East and the rest of the world.
As important as the event is, it did not surprise most observers keen to follow the preliminary meetings held in Iraq and the Sultanate of Oman in preparation for this announcement.
The event is expected between two neighboring countries, yet they differ in political, economic, and ideological orientations. But they are governed by geography, security challenges, and the intersection of interests in a region considered the most critical influence in the global economy.
Many questions should be mentioned considering the connection between the return of Saudi Iranian relations and all Middle East issues, starting with the Arab Israeli conflict and the situation in Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon. The basis of these questions is the extent of Saudi Arabia’s firm position on Iran’s arms and expansionist ambitions in the Middle East and North Africa.
It is illogical for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to accept restoring its relations with Iran while Iran continues its hostile policy and expansionist plans. The Kingdom’s demand was and still is for Iran to stop interfering in the internal affairs of the region’s countries and to stop its support for all armed organizations, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthi group in Yemen, and the popular Hashd in Iraq.
It is also illogical for Saudi acceptance to restore relations with Tehran only in response to Chinese mediation, without considering its relations with the rest of the historical allies, led by the United States of America and the European Union.
It is illogical for the West to continue negotiations with Tehran regarding its nuclear program and not to understand the Kingdom’s restoration of its relations with Iran. Whatever the American and Western strategic assessments and their attempts to isolate Iran economically, Saudi Arabia’s position in Iran’s neighborhood is a matter that doubles the size of the challenges that Riyadh faces.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has always warned America and the West of the danger of entering into side agreements with Iran without considering Riyadh’s security and economic interests. These warnings have yet to receive a response from Washington. Moreover, President Biden began his presidential term with an unprecedented escalation against the Kingdom, which separated the two allies’ vision of the region’s problems.
Washington did not do much – or may not have the ability – to curb Iran, while the Kingdom entered a costly war against the Iran-backed Houthi group in Yemen. The positions of American politicians differed between supporters of Saudi Arabia and those who went so far as to demand the cessation of military support and the cancellation of arms deals directed at Riyadh.
The costs of No-war and No-peace that have characterized Saudi Iranian relations since the eighties of the last century were and still are hindering development projects in the Kingdom. Although never reached the level of direct armed confrontation. The Kingdom’s cities and industrial and oil facilities are only kilometers from the range of Iranian missiles. Any military friction between the West and Iran may not serve the interests of Riyadh, which is in the first and direct line of confrontation.
The continued of the arms race between Iran and the Kingdom does not serve Saudi Arabia’s development goals insofar as it pours billions of dollars into the others pockets.
What is the gains of the Kingdom from the constant state of tension with Iran?

Would any Terran’s (sincere) commitment to stop its hostile and expansionist policy serve the kingdom’s economic visions most?

Some may say that restoring Saudi Iranian relations may completely distance the Kingdom from the damages of any military confrontation between Iran and the West, just as some may believe that any Israeli strike on Iran may have dire consequences for Saudi Arabia and its vital facilities. This opinion may seem correct. Still, we should not undermine the advanced military capabilities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the extent to which all the great powers are keen on protecting it against any Iranian aggression. Despite this, the situation remains between the possibility of confrontation and the West’s refusal to resist Iran’s demands.
To what extent we can consider the Kingdom signing this agreement as a preemptive step to avoid turning it into a military confrontation arena? As well preventing any opportunistic use of its lands.

Ultimately, the Kingdom will keep pursuing a common demand with the West to stop Iran’s aggressive behavior. In any case, there is still time to ascertain the sincerity of Iranian intentions.
Here lies the importance of the Chinese role; whether we like it or not, they achieved a major diplomatic breakthrough at the expense of hesitation by the US administration and the West. 
While the West did not resolve the duality and double standards of the diplomatic crisis between Tehran and Riyadh, China presented itself as an alternative in the region.
China will have achieved a significant victory by adding this diplomatic mediation to its economic and industrial capabilities, commercial ambitions, and aspirations to support the infrastructure projects of the region’s counties.

the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, at right, and Saudi Arabia, led by Saudi national security adviser Musaad bin Mohammed al-Aiban, at left, in Beijing, Saturday, March 11, 2023. . (Luo Xiaoguang/Xinhua via AP)

As for Iran, which masters reading balances and the game of diversifying cards, achieves a tactical goal with a great deal of cunning, as it sends a double message to the United States.
First, it can create a stable atmosphere in the region, which might satisfy Washington temporarily and give it time to focus on the Russian-Ukrainian war.
Secondly, Tehran can escape political and economic isolation without needing the United States.

Between the preemptive and tactical dimensions of the Saudi Iranian steps, Washington can enjoy enough additional time to monitor the development of all regional issues, which still holds many of its keys. If the Iranian position is committed to the terms of the truce, then it can at least curb Netenyahu’s escalators statements and f Iran betrays the Kingdom, Washington will place all the blame on China and assert its leadership in dealing with all regional issues.

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