Re-Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia and its Possible Effects on Pakistan

Middle East regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia are all set to renew their diplomatic ties after seven years of hostility. On March 10, 2023, officials of both countries confirmed that they have entered into a peace agreement mediated by China in Beijing, under which both Iran and Saudi Arabia will reopen embassies in each other’s countries within two months, and also resume trade and other economic activities.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Iran and Saudi Arabia are considered bitter enemies of each other. One of the obvious reasons behind it is sectarianism. Saudi Arabia, being a Sunni state and having the two most holy Muslim places, Makkah and Madinah, considers itself superior and the leader of the Muslim world, while Iran considers itself superior because of its Shia majority.

Despite the ideological differences, the thrust to maximize power and become the regional hegemon is the second biggest bone of contention between Riyadh and Tehran.

The roots of the Iran-Saudi conflict can be traced back to 1979, when the Iranian revolution evolved, but the breakdown of diplomatic relations between the two countries happened in 2016, after protesters in Tehran invaded the Saudi Embassy. Since then, due to various other factors, such as Shia-Sunni cleric differences and differences in political ideologies, have accelerated the tension between both of these countries, which has been a magnificent threat to the stability and peace in the Gulf.

China, who usually plays a secondary role in such situations, has actively addressed this issue and played a remarkable role in resolving the long-term diplomatic breakthrough by mediating the peace agreement between both countries. It is believed that China was able to play this role because it has maintained ties with both Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Officials from China have described this agreement as a victory for dialogue, negotiations, and peace. They have also expressed their intention to continue playing a constructive role in addressing global issues and maintaining peace.

Undoubtedly, the efforts of China are being appreciated around the globe for putting an end to the cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, it seems like Israel is unhappy about the peace agreement between the two countries, as for decades Israel has used the Iran threat to improve its own relations with the Gulf Arab states.

Pakistan's stance on the re-establishment of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia is very positive. The normalization of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia can be beneficial for Pakistan’s economy, particularly in the sectors of trade and energy.

Iran is one of Pakistan's most important trading partners, while Saudi Arabia is also a significant economic ally of Pakistan. The improved economic relations with both countries could lead to increased trade and investment, which would highly benefit Pakistan and its economy.

As far as the energy sector is concerned, both Iran and Saudi Arabia are major oil producing countries. And better relations between both of them could lead to greater stability in the international oil market, which would be beneficial for Pakistan as an oil importing country.

In a nutshell, the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia is a positive indicator towards international security and peace. Also, it highlights the importance and necessity of greater religious, cleric, and societal tolerance and coexistence.

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