by Waseem Shehzad (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 53, No. 2, Ramadan, 1444)
The agreement to restore diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia announced on March 10 in Beijing marked a tectonic shift in global politics. To have diplomatic ties is the norm; not having relations is abnormal unless, of course, the entity happens to be the illegitimate usurper state of zionist Israel.
Nor indeed is the restoration of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia the big story. The really big story is that China has for the first time in contemporary history played such a significant role in mediation between two regional powers. Equally important is the fact that the US was not involved in the affairs of states in West Asia where it has maintained a hegemonic presence and influence for nearly eight decades.
While Iran’s National Security Advisor, Ali Shamkhani set out on a regional tour to apprise neighbours of the Iran-Saudi rapprochement, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jadaan announced on March 15 that the kingdom could invest in Iran’s economy very soon. With its highly-skilled population and rich in mineral resources, Iran offers great opportunities for investments.
This was followed on March 19 by Saudi king Salman bin Abd al-Aziz’s invitation to President Ibrahim Raiesi to visit Riyadh for talks. This is an important break-through and indicates that the Saudis are keen to maintain the momentum of the China-brokered accord.
True, Saudi Arabia has hitherto been a vassal state of the US but it seems the kingdom is gradually trying to break loose from this master-slave relationship. In Tehran, the Washington warlords have zero influence; they are loathed with a passion. Thus, the US was in no position to mediate between the two countries. Besides, its policy has been to create divisions and stoke conflicts in the region to maintain zionist primacy. With the restoration of Iran-Saudi relations, all these have been dealt a severe blow.
Not surprisingly, Tehran saw this as an end to US’ regional hegemony. Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, military advisor to the Rahbar, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei and former head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), said on March 12 that the Tehran-Riyadh rapprochement marked an end to US hegemony in the region.
“Regarding the recent agreement, it… was a tectonic shift in the political field and an end to the American hegemony in the region. The post-US era in the Persian Gulf region has just started,” he said.
“The Chinese have decided to become the world’s first economy by 2030. The deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia, mediated by China, dealt the second biggest blow to the US by China. This is because Saudi Arabia is China’s largest supplier of oil, and on the other hand, China’s strategic partnership agreement with Iran to invest in the development of our infrastructure was a great agreement,” General Safavi added.
Even American think-tanks have admitted that China’s role in the restoration of Iran-Saudi ties “has just left the United States with a bleeding nose in the Gulf.” This was the view of Ahmed Aboudouh, a non-resident fellow with the Middle East Programs at the Atlantic Council.
Thomas S. Warrick, a non-resident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security’s Forward Defense practice and the Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council, however, tried to put a different spin on it. He said “Washington should neither overreact nor underreact to today’s [March 10] announcement that China played a role in the resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran… China’s public role… shows its interest in doing something that few other countries could have done: gaining the confidence of both sides.”
He then tried to reassure the Washington warlords that “resumption of diplomatic ties between Tehran and Riyadh is not likely to lead to a major change in the Gulf’s security situation.” Really? This could be read both as an attempt to sooth frayed nerves in Washington and as a harbinger of more western, primarily American-instigated destabilizing efforts in the region.
After all, the US and its illegitimate ward, the zionist state of Israel, are notorious for instigating trouble. They thrive on wars that result in mayhem and killings. Since 911, the US, its NATO allies and zionist Israel have murdered more than 32 million people in West Asia.
The other important factor in this equation was the March 9 visit by Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal ibn Farhan to Moscow where he huddled with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov for several hours. There is little doubt that the Saudi foreign minister briefed what was underway in Beijing in which Moscow must also have played a role.
At their joint press conference in Moscow following their talks, Lavrov said: “We discussed a number of current regional and international issues. We held an in-depth discussion on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. Moscow and Riyadh believe that all regional issues must be addressed through a political dialogue involving all the interested parties” (emphasis added).
Russia’s top diplomat then brought up the subject of Moscow’s proposal for a collective security concept for the Persian Gulf in which all interested parties would be involved. Lavrov said: “In that context, we talked about ways to help stabilise the situation in the Gulf area by promoting a unifying agenda that will bring us closer to formulating practical agreements on security in that crucial part of the world. We will maintain contact on that issue. As you know, Russia has proposed a Collective Security Concept for the Gulf Area, and we will continue our dialogue regarding it with all the interested parties.”
Naturally, there had to be something for each party in the Iran-Saudi rapprochement. Tehran had insisted that the Saudis end their financing of anti-Iran propaganda TV station, Iran International based in London, England. At the end of February, it was announced that the outlet was shutting its UK operations and moving its staff to the US. Obviously, Americans and zionists would finance this lie factory. Similarly, the Saudis must end their support for terrorist groups in Iran’s Khuzestan and Baluchistan provinces.
The Saudis are looking for a face-saving exit from Yemen where the war, launched on March 26, 2015, has become a quagmire. In his remarks in Moscow at the joint press conference with his Saudi counterpart, Lavrov had called for a comprehensive settlement of the conflict in Yemen that would include all parties.
He urged the UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg to continue to act energetically and “to encourage an inclusive intra-Yemeni dialogue under the UN umbrella in the near future.” Iran’s permanent mission to the United Nations issued a similar statement on March 11 saying the Tehran-Riyadh deal would contribute to the realization of a ceasefire in Yemen. There is also likely to be positive spill-off effect on the political situation in Lebanon and Syria thereby reducing tensions in the region.
The Beijing agreement also alluded to the 2001 Security Pact between Iran and Saudi Arabia. This was signed by then Saudi Interior Minister Nayef bin Abd al-Aziz and his Iranian counterpart Abdolvahid Mussavi-Lari in Tehran on April 18, 2001. While the pact remained largely dormant during the intervening years, primarily because of Saudi duplicity, its revival at this time indicates that the Bani Saud are running scared.
With America no longer willing to guarantee the survival of Saudi de facto ruler, Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) is looking for assurances elsewhere. The Islamic Republic should be wary of providing any such assurances and maintain strict state-to-state relations. The Najdi Bedouins are extremely fickle-minded and untrustworthy.
What the Iran-Saudi rapprochement indicates is that the so-called Abraham Accords between the zionists and the Arabian potentates is now effectively dead. The zionists deserve no reprieve given their barbaric treatment of the Palestinians.