Iran has announced the appointment of an ambassador to Saudi Arabia, indicating a thaw in relations between the two countries.
The newly appointed envoy for Saudi Arabia, Alireza Enayati, brings plenty of experience with him, having previously served as ambassador of Iran to Kuwait, assistant to the foreign minister, and director general of Gulf affairs at the foreign ministry. While the foreign ministry of the Islamic republic has not yet confirmed his appointment, state media reports have confirmed the news.
This diplomatic breakthrough comes more than seven years after Saudi Arabia severed ties with Iran in 2016. The rupture occurred following the attack on Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad during protests over the execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr by the kingdom. However, on March 10, a surprise reconciliation agreement was signed between the two regional rivals in China, signaling a desire to repair their strained relationship.
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Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said that normalizing relations offered great prospects for both countries and for the Middle East, and hinted at further steps. He tweeted that the neighborhood policy, as the key axis of the Iranian government’s foreign policy, is strongly moving in the right direction and the diplomatic apparatus is actively behind the preparation of more regional steps.
Why it matters:
Prior to this agreement, Saudi Arabia and Iran had been supporting opposing sides in various conflicts across the Middle East. Saudi Arabia led a military coalition in Yemen to back the internationally recognized government, while Iran supported the Huthi rebels who control the capital city, Sanaa, and significant parts of the north. The signing of the reconciliation agreement followed several rounds of dialogue held in Iraq and Oman.
The appointment of an Iranian ambassador to Saudi Arabia marks a significant step forward in repairing diplomatic ties between the two heavyweight nations in the Middle East. It is a development that will be closely observed by regional and international observers as they assess the potential implications for the broader geopolitical landscape in the region.
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