A week ago, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore diplomatic relations broken since 2016.
The rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia reached this month with the mediation of China is changing the strategic situation in the Middle East, says the former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger.
The veteran politician points to the growing paper of Beijing both in that region and in the world.
“China has stated in recent years that it needs to participate in the creation of the world order (…) He has now taken a significant step in that direction,” Kissinger said in a interview Awarded to a columnist for The Washington Post.
The reach of an agreement between Tehran and Riyadh, continued the politician, will entail consequences for Israel also, that they will have to take Chinese interests into account when putting pressure on Iran for its nuclear program.
“I see it as a substantial change of the strategic situation in the Middle East,” said the former official.
Furthermore, he stated that China’s rise as a peacemaker “changes the terms of reference in international diplomacy”, and shows that the US is no longer the only power strong and flexible enough to negotiate peace agreements in the region.
What happened between Riyadh and Tehran?
On March 10, Iran and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement to resume their diplomatic relationsbroken since 2016, and it is expected that in both countries the embassies will reopen within two months.
The agreement was reached with the mediation of China during trilateral talks held in Beijingwhere, since March 6, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, had been in intense negotiations with his Saudi counterpart, Musaad bin Mohammed Al Aiban, to resolve the differences between Tehran and Riyadh.
In the joint statement issued by Iran, Saudi Arabia and China, the two Islamic countries stressed the respect for sovereignty and the non-interference in the internal affairs of the other party. In addition, they agreed to apply their cooperation agreement on security signed on April 17, 2001, as well as putting into practice the cooperation agreement economicalcommercial, technical, scientific, cultural and sports signed on May 27, 1998.
Likewise, the Government of China invited Iran and the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf to hold a summit in beijing this year, according to reported last Sunday The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Riyadh and Tehran, regional rivals for decades, saw their relations sour after the execution of prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia in January 2016. The same year, the Arab kingdom broke ties with Tehran after protesters attacked the Saudi embassy in the Iranian capital.
In the Yemen conflict, active since 2014, Iran has supported insurgents Houthiswho are fighting against the international coalition led by Saudi Arabia.
In 2019 Riyadh blamed the Islamic Republic for attacks on its oil facilities, which left half the country without supplies.
“Towards a fundamentally different security architecture”
American journalist Thomas Lifson described China’s diplomatic success as a “crushing defeat” for Washington.
“The Chinese triumph in the Middle East, which is putting the United States in background, is one of the main signs, if not the worst, of the disaster that the Biden presidency has unleashed. Are very bad news for us, for our European and Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese oil-dependent Middle Eastern allies, and for Israel,” wrote en American Thinker.
Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute, called the agreement “good news for the Middle East”adding that China has become “an actor that can settle disputes instead of just selling weapons to the parties in conflict.”
“Unlike the US, the Chinese have maintained a neutral posture towards their conflict, they have worked very hard and with great discipline not to get entangled in the disputes that various regional powers have with each other (…) It is also worth mentioning that China has had this diplomatic influence without counting on a single military base in the region, without being the main arms supplier for any of these countries and without giving any security guarantee none of them, which is normally the American mediation model,” stated the journalist at Democracy Now!
Citing reports of Chinese plans to host a summit of Iran and Gulf Arab countries this year, he conceded that these efforts by Beijing could be “the first steps towards a fundamentally different security architecture in the region.”