Saudi-Iran Diplomatic Rapprochement: Assessing new Arenas for Regional Stability

Barack Obama, a former President of United States of America, once said “In a world of complex threats, our security and leadership depends on all elements of our power-including strong and principled diplomacy.” With these lines-the advancement of human civilizations via significant aspirations of modern society has been risen by foreign policy means to achieve national ends- can be analyzed. Similarly, the current strategic environment of the Middle Eastern region appears to have limited the escalation pursuits to enhance the diplomatic relations between states. On 10 March, through the Chinese-sponsored agreement, Iran and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had been meeting secretly to ensure strong and principle-oriented diplomacy. Undoubtedly, both states are the arch rivals of each other dates back to more than four decades with extended level of detente but failed to establish any substantial and long-standing strategic stability. This contemporary rapprochement of both enriched states seems to be influential as the leadership from two countries is creating strategic and operational equilibrium for inevitable cooperation and mutual coexistence. Apart from this, the conducive arenas can be built for regional stability.

While analysing the drivers of this important rapprochement, there are geopolitical, economic and religious considerations can be inculcated to boost the foreign policy ends. To begin with, the anarchical world is witnessing paradigm shift in political environment of the Middle East. This state of affairs, may be glimpsed through political cooperation, unparalleled political security of Islamic world and diplomatic entanglement of countries. Secondly, the economic opportunities within the parameters of this historical rapprochement could be fruitful for two states in particular and region in general. For instance, China’s current deal with Iran signed in 2021, can have greater collaboration with these two oil rich countries if two are maintaining genuine ambitions with far reaching perks. Likewise, there are other economic indicators liable to sustain the prosperity may also be enhanced via this financial cooperation. Further, with the phenomenon of religious tourism, both states symbolize the unprecedented importance. Religious affiliations of region can be the source of bilateral relations through which financial indicators stabilizes.

Certain challenges and obstacles to rapprochement are driving the unpleasant and hazardous circumstances for two states. These are ranging from regional contestations, genuine void in the leaderships in ME region, ungovernable proxy warfare in countries like Syria, Yemen, and Iraq to the unwavering political stimulation of great powers in this chaotic area. Apart from these, obstacles like, Shia-Sunni divide and trust deficit between two countries can also damage the reliable diplomatic objectives. With the matter of dialogue mechanism between two states, the challenges are prone to convert into new wave of opportunities. There is the need of proper policy-oriented shifts to mend the relations. This is also significant for other regional states to have sigh of relief where unconditional ethnic dividend is making threats to the peace and stability.

Apart from this, with this rapprochement there are the inevitable formations of new arenas for regional cooperation and stability. Firstly, diplomatic and conflict resolution mechanism are crucial to play definite role in the mediation and resolving decades old conflicts. These are posing daunting threat perceptions to positive peace. Thus, bilateral and multilateral initiatives can be taken in order to regulate the peaceful coexistence. Secondly, through proper financial partnerships, and major development projects, the chances of new opportunities can be established including: joint ventures and foreign direct investment along with the portfolio investment. Thus, developing relevant infrastructure and connectivity hubs are prime to enhance the economic cooperation. Thirdly, both states can be directly involved to participate in security paradigm and put legitimate efforts to counter-terrorism efforts. This particular arena can develop the security and trust building, while, the intelligence sharing, participating in military exercises, and initiating action plans led to establish the security credibility of the region. Moreover, in the education and academic aspects, both states dramatically visualize the people to people exchanges and promote diplomatic footprints.

Simultaneously, such arenas of mutual collaborations have strategic implications for the region which are driving the conflicts into prosperous Middle East at large. These can convert ongoing proximities to regional balance. Also, arenas can enhance security build-up against proxy warfare in the region. This even can limit the region’s pursuit for the nuclearizing states to attain the balance of power. And categorically this will promote the diplomatic advocacy to reduce and mitigate the risk escalation between giant powers of the region. Furthermore, the uncertainty of the proximity needs the substantial role of international community as Republic of China did. Through these pragmatic support from great powers like China, two regional countries are going to accomplish the regional strategic stability while ignoring the decades old rivalry. International community needs to support this cause for peaceful coexistence even by endorsing the rapprochement of great nature.

In nutshell, the contemporary Saudi-Iran rapprochement can symbolize the strategic stability of the Middle East. This diplomatic initiative has so much to offer to the peace and security. Therefore, unprecedented cooperation in political, economic, and religious affairs is feasible for the domestic and for regional prosperity. However, the obstacles and challenges are leading the unwanted trust deficit among states but certain pragmatic and significant steps are required to boost the foreign policy ends and stability of the region. And international community and great powers of international system can play crucial and demonstrative role to enhance the sustaining improved relations among two rivalries of regional political landscape.

Khaleeque Ahmed
Khaleeque Ahmed
Mphil student at Quaid i azam university, Islamabad.