A major meeting of top envoys from Saudi Arabia and Iran is expected to happen in Beijing on Thursday, as the next significant step in the China-brokered rapprochement and normalization of ties between the longtime enemies takes shape.
As Reuters underscores, "The meeting between Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, will be the first formal meeting between Saudi Arabia and Iran's most senior diplomats in more than seven years."
A senior Iranian official also confirmed, "The top envoys agreed to meet on Apr. 6 in Beijing as the deal was facilitated by China." On the agenda is expected to be the mutual reopening of embassies and appointment of ambassadors.
The most important, and illustrative of the way the geopolitical winds are blowing, is the following:
"The era of the United States' involvement in this region is over... The regional countries are capable of preserving security and stability in the Middle East without Washington's interference," another Iranian official said.
On the issue of China, the powerful US rival, leading the way in brokering peace, Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awasat newspaper cited a source in Riyadh to say that choosing China as host country for the meeting "came as an extension of Beijing's positive role in reaching the agreement and facilitating communication between the two countries."
As for Tehran and Riyadh, not only has the regional rivalry, which intensified most during the decade of the proxy war in Syria which began in 2011, been set amid a centuries-long divide over correct interpretation of Islam (Shia Iran vs. Sunni Saudi Arabia), but it has also spilled over in places like Yemen, scene of another grinding proxy war which pit Shia rebels against a Saudi-backed government.
The collapse of U.S. influence over Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom’s new alliances with China and Iran are painful emblems of the abject failure of the Neocon strategy of maintaining U.S. global hegemony with aggressive projections of military power. China has displaced the…— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) April 4, 2023
The Saudis and Iranians also clash in supporting rival political factions inside Lebanon, with Tehran being the Shia paramilitary group Hezbollah's biggest backer. For these reasons, accusations of supporting terrorism have been frequently hurled back-and-forth over the years. Iranian state media, for example, has long charged the Saudis with being a prime covert backer of the Islamic State (ISIS) in their drive to overthrow President Assad in Syria.