China’s Emergence As Mediator In Saudi-Iranian Conflict – OpEd


Iran and Saudi Arabia have agreed to re-establish relations after years of hostility. The absence of ties between the two countries threatened stability and security in the gulf and helped fuel conflicts in West Asia, from Yemen to Syria. The deal, brokered by China, was announced after days of previously undisclosed talks in Beijing between top officials from the two nations.

As per a statement issued by Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China, Tehran, and Riyadh agreed to resume diplomatic relations and re-open embassies within two months. Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran in 2016 when its embassy in Tehran was stormed during a dispute over Riyadh’s execution of a Shi’ite Muslim cleric. The kingdom had also blamed Iran for missile and drone attacks on its oil facilities in 2019, as well as attacks on tankers in gulf waters. Iran had denied the charges. In the past, the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen has also allegedly carried out cross-border missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan warmly welcomed the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two Islamic countries, which will have far-reaching impact on the geo-strategic relations of the regional countries and help address the thorny disputes of the region. This deal could be particularly beneficial for Pakistan, which shares a border with Iran and has close economic ties with Saudi Arabia. It could potentially reduce tensions in the Middle East and South Asia, which could be beneficial for Pakistan’s stability and security. It could also potentially open up new economic opportunities for Pakistan, as both Iran and Saudi Arabia are significant trading partners for Pakistan.

The deteriorating relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran was instability in the region and also threat for China’s economic interests. The restoration of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran is a significant development, as these two countries are the largest powers in the region, and their conflicts have had a destabilizing effect on the Middle East.

As a major global power with good relations with both Iran and Saudi Arabia, China used its influence to encourage dialogue and reconciliation between the two countries. China has a long-standing policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries and approach any mediation efforts with sensitivity and respect for both parties. Beijing has sought to balance its relations with these two countries while pursuing its strategic interests in the region. China has a significant stake in the region’s stability, given its dependence on Middle Eastern oil and its strategic interests in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that passes through the region.

China has been actively promoted economic cooperation between Iran and Saudi Arabia. In 2016, China signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran to invest $600 billion in Iran’s economy over a period of 10 years. In 2017, China signed a similar agreement with Saudi Arabia to invest $20 billion in the kingdom’s infrastructure projects. These investments are expected to boost economic ties between the two countries after these ties.

While it is true that China has been seeking to increase its global influence in recent years, it is unlikely that China’s involvement in the Middle East is solely driven by a desire to counter the US. Rather, China’s primary motivation is to protect its own economic and strategic interests in the region.

For the United States, a deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia could potentially ease tensions in the Middle East and reduce the risk of a major conflict. However, it could also create new challenges. The United States has historically been a close ally of Saudi Arabia, and any deal that strengthens Iran’s position in the region could be viewed as a threat to U.S. interests. Now after Iran-Saudi Arabia deal US could further strain its relationship with Israel, which has been a key U.S. ally in the region.

China’s involvement as a mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran is driven by its economic and geopolitical interests in the region, as well as its desire to play a more active role in international diplomacy. While China’s relations with the US are complex and often competitive, China’s interests in the Middle East are largely driven by economic considerations rather than geopolitical rivalry with the US.

China’s growing influence in the Middle East does have implications for the balance of power in the region and could potentially impact US interests. After played a mediator role between Saudi Arabia and Iran, now China strengthened its position as a regional power and potentially challenge US influence in the region.

The writer is an Islamabad based freelance analyst. You can reach author at:

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