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In The Changing Geopolitical Landscape

Less than a month since China played an unfamiliar global role by helping broker a diplomatic deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi accepted an invitation from Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to visit Riyadh in near future.

In the first week of April 2023, First Vice President of Iran Mohammad Mokhber confirmed the news, saying that President Raisi accepted the invitation after considering the changing regional geopolitical landscape. It may be noted that China, Saudi Arabia and Iran announced on March 10 (2023) that Riyadh and Tehran had struck a deal that included an agreement to resume diplomatic ties and reopening of Embassies and Missions within two months. Later on March 19, the Saudi king sent the invitation letter to President Raisi (to visit the Kingdom).

On social media, Mohammad Jamshidi, the Deputy Chief of Staff (for Political Affairs) of the Iranian President, stated that the Saudi Monarch welcomed the deal between the two “brotherly countries” on the normalisation of ties. King Al Saud further called for strong economic and regional cooperation between the two neighbouring West Asian nations. The King also expressed hope that Riyadh and Tehran would be able to re-establish trade and security ties soon.

Meanwhile, Iran and Saudi Arabia have also agreed to open a Joint Chamber of Commerce in the coming days. Keyvan Kashefi, a member of the Presiding Board of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA), stated that the Raisi Administration would begin the exchange of business delegations with Saudi Arabia immediately after the reopening of the Embassies in the two countries, and the reinstatement of their ambassadors.

It may be noted that Saudi Arabia had snapped ties with Iran in January 2016 after demonstrators stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. The incident took place immediately after Riyadh executed prominent Iranian Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who was convicted of terror-related offences. Since then, tensions between the Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia and Shia-dominated Iran have become antagonistic, with both the parties trying to dominate regional politics. They have also taken different stands on various regional conflicts, including the civil wars in Syria and Yemen.

In a separate development, Iran recently appointed an ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after a gap of eight years. Tehran has issued a statement, mentioning that Reza Ameri would soon arrive in Abu Dhabi as the new Ambassador of Iran. Ameri, a seasoned diplomat who was serving as the Director General of the Iranian Expatriates’ Office at the Foreign Ministry just before his appointment, had previously served as Iranian Ambassador to Algeria, Sudan and Eritrea.

In 2016, the UAE downgraded its ties with Iran after Saudi Arabia snapped diplomatic relations with Tehran. Abu Dhabi reinstated its ambassador to Tehran six years later in September 2022.

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