After seven years of a breakdown in diplomatic relations, Iran has confirmed that it will reopen its embassy in Saudi Arabia this week, followed by the reopening of its consulate in Jeddah and its representative office with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation a day later. The brokering of peace facilitated by China last month is already having a positive spillover effect in the region and beyond, and the hope is that this development can act as a trigger for greater cooperation and connectivity in the region and beyond.
As per reports, the embassy and consulate had already been operational in recent weeks, but now they will be officially reopened in the presence of the two countries’ foreign ministry officials. As of now, there is no official confirmation on when the Saudi embassy in Tehran or the kingdom’s consulate in Mashhad will officially reopen or who its ambassador will be. But as these particulars are finalised, the important thing is that this is a landmark development and its impact could be transformational.
The resumption of dialogue and restoration of relations was not something policy hawks could have predicted, which is what makes this an even bigger achievement. This was a conflict that threatened stability and security in the Middle East and helped fuel regional conflicts from Yemen to Syria.
It is encouraging to see how the two regional powerhouses have been steadily reducing tensions in recent months, and this will no doubt help bolster security across the region. In fact, since the agreement in March, countries in the region have also followed Saudi Arabia’s lead towards normalising relations with Syria. Further, Saudi Arabia has also increasingly engaged with the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen, where Riyadh and Tehran have backed opposing sides in the country’s civil war since 2015. Not only does this serve as a blueprint for other conflict hotspots around the world, but is also an illustration of the immediate dividends derived from dialogue and peace. The hope is that this development will pave the way for greater cooperation, and enhanced connectivity, trade and development for countries in the Middle East, South/East Asia, and beyond.