Iran And Saudi Arabia - A Common Future Looking East

In March 2023 Iran and Saudi Arabia restored their diplomatic ties with each other. The deal had been mediated by China.

As I remarked at that time:

This is huge!

Reviving relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran will make a lot of new things possible.

That Iran and Saudi Arabia accepted China’s mediation is a recognition of Beijing’s new standing in world policies. That alone is enough reason for the White House to hate the deal.

Sowing Crisis: The Col... Khalidi, Rashid Best Price: $2.99 Buy New $27.55 (as of 12:17 UTC - Details) I later summarized the diplomatic action in the Middle East:

For the last 30 years the U.S. considered the Middle East as its backyard. Twenty years ago it illegally invaded Iraq and caused 100,000nds of death and decades of chaos. Now China, by peaceful means, changed the balance in the Middle East within just one month.

Xi and Putin are now running the multilateral global show. Biden and the hapless ‘unilateral’ people around him are left aside., which translates everything into Persian, Arabic and English, has published a piece written by two academics from Iran and Saudi Arabia. Such cooperation is still rare. This can then be seen as a semi-official explanation and/or vision of those countries’ global policies.

The piece confirms the loss of U.S. influence and the rise of China’s role in the Middle East:

How Gaza war is pushing the region eastward

The unwavering US support for Israel’s war on Gaza has left a bitter taste in the region.  Anger is mounting not only in the Arab world but also across the Global South, over what is seen as western double standards towards Israel’s continued onslaught. There is a unified demand for a ceasefire and sharp criticism of what it viewed as unchecked Israeli aggression.

One main trend of regional dynamics in recent years has been a pivot to the east. Underscoring this shift, Iran and Saudi Arabia in Mar. 2023 struck a deal to resume diplomatic ties in a historic agreement brokered by China. In particular, Beijing’s role in the breakthrough sent a clear message to Washington that it is not the only diplomatic heavyweight in the region.

Both Iran and Saudi Arabia have their own individual reasons for prioritizing better relations with their neighbors. For Tehran, getting closer to Riyadh presents a unique opportunity to break free from its economic isolation—after enduring years of US sanctions—by diversifying economic and political partnerships.

For Saudi Arabia, looking east is part and parcel of its ambitious Vision 2030—an extensive reform plan aimed at diversifying its economy. China, India, and Russia are key partners in realizing this vision, given their expansive trading relations with Riyadh. […]

Overall, Riyadh understands that the success of Vision 2030, particularly the touristic aspect of it, partially hinges on a safer neighborhood. The attacks on Saudi oil installations in 2019, which were blamed on Tehran but claimed by Yemen’s Ansarullah movement—better known as the Houthis—marked a turning point.

The Kingdom was shocked by the lack of US action, […]

The U.S. plan to bring the Arab states and Israel together into an anti-Iranian coalition gets rejected, the scholars write, because of lack of U.S. pressure on Israel to pursue a two state solution.

In consequence: Lincoln As He Really Was Charles T Pace, Thomas... Best Price: $23.39 Buy New $19.95 (as of 11:10 UTC - Details)

[T]he US is losing its standing among regional countries as a security partner. To many, the full-fledged western support for Israel is incomprehensible—and jeopardizes their own safety. […]

All in all, pivoting towards Asia has become an attractive alternative for regional players seeking to counter US hegemony. Non-western countries are less open to adhering to Washington’s rules for the game, and this inclination will further consolidate intra-regional relationships—especially as key actors find more similarities than differences.

Although the perception of US double standards is not new, the willingness of non-western countries to challenge this amid a changing global order has increased. Previously, regional players tolerated the status quo as the US was seen as the sole superpower. However, with the rise of new global powers in the east, these actors see no reason to stay silent about the suffering in Gaza while passively accepting the moral arguments of the US regarding Russia’s war on Ukraine. If the current trend continues, western influence in a region where it has long been dominant will diminish.

This is quite a slap to the Biden administration which still seems to dream that it can broker some Saudi-Israeli deal and isolate Iran with it.

The times where the U.S. could dictate to the Middle East are definitely over.

Reprinted with permission from Moon of Alabama.