Saudi Arabia-Iran hold Bilateral Talks

Saudi Arabia-Iran hold Bilateral Talks

News: Recently, Saudi and Iranian officials held bilateral talks that concluded with an agreement to restore diplomatic ties which have been severed since 2016. The major diplomatic breakthrough negotiated by China in Beijing.

Key outcomes:
 The two countries plan to reopen their respective embassies in Tehran and Riyadh.
 They also vowed to respect countries’ sovereignty and not interfere in internal affairs.
 They also agreed to activate a 2001 security cooperation agreement, as well as a general economy, trade and investment agreement signed in 1998.

Why were both nations in conflict?
 Saudi Arabia has long portrayed itself as the world’s leading Sunni nation while Iran views itself as the protector of the Islam’s Shiite minority.
 Since US’s withdrawal from Iran’s Nuclear deal, Iran was blamed for a series of attacks including one targeting the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry in 2019. Western nations and experts have blamed the attack on Iran though the latter has denied launching the attack.
 Saudi Arabia and Iran - two powerful neighbours - are locked in a fierce struggle for regional dominance. Uprisings across the Arab world (after the Arab Spring in 2011) caused political instability throughout the region.
 Iran and Saudi Arabia exploited these upheavals to expand their influence, notably in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, further heightening mutual suspicions. Moreover, external powers like the US and Israel have a major role in exacerbating conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
 Iran and Saudi Arabia are not directly fighting but they are engaged in a variety of proxy wars (conflicts where they support rival sides and militias) around the region.
 For Example, Houthi rebels in Yemen. These groups can acquire greater capabilities which can cause further instability in the region. Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of supporting them.
 Historically, Saudi Arabia, a monarchy and home to the birthplace of Islam, saw itself as the leader of the Muslim world. However, this was challenged in 1979 by the Islamic revolution in Iran which created a new type of state in the region.

What are global implications?
 The deal may have implications for a US-led effort to isolate Iran economically through sanctions as the deal may facilitate possible Saudi investment inside Iran.
 In Yemen, the Saudis have been backing the internationally recognised government in an eight-year civil war against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels but have been looking for a way to end the war by conducting private talks in Oman with the Houthis.
 Saudi Arabia will hope that Iran will halt Houthi drone and missile strikes on the kingdom, and that Iran will help with Saudi talks with the Houthis.
 The deal will cause concern among many Israeli politicians who have sought global isolation for its archenemy Iran. Israel described the pact as a “serious and dangerous” development.

Does it complicate things for India?
 Apart from China mediating for talks and expanding its influence in the region which is a worry for India the general belief is that friendly relations between arch rivals will ease supply of oil and promote peace and stability in a tense region. This is likely to help India as it is dependent on oil and energy security from the middle east.
 It is also likely to bolster trade and commerce as both nations are important trading partners for India. 

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