The key to mending Tehran-Riyadh ties is in Saudi hands: former ambassador

August 14, 2021 - 11:33

TEHRAN – Iran’s former ambassador to Baghdad has said the key to resolve the disputes between Iran and Saudi Arabia is in the hands of Riyadh.

If the Saudis, like Iran, have the will to mend ties, Tehran is ready “but the knot should be untied by the Saudis,” Hossein Danayeefar told IRNA in an interview published on Friday.

Tehran and Riyadh have been at loggerheads over the Saudi-led war on Yemen, the Saudi opposition to the 2015 nuclear deal, which was abandoned by former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2015 and imposed sanctions on Iran within his “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic Republic.

“Iraq seeks to find special place in the region”

The former ambassador also said Iraq sent its foreign minister to Tehran in efforts to keep Iraq safe from regional disputes and also promote the status of Iraq in the region.

“Iraqi diplomats and analysts believe that one of the reasons for the current situation in Iraq is that this country is affected by peripheral tensions. This analysis is technical and precise because in the current world regional and international developments affect situation all countries,” the former Ambassador remarked.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein visited Tehran on Tuesday to official deliver a letter to new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to visit Baghdad which plans to organize a regional summit late August or early September with the participation of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait as well as representatives from the European Union and the United Nations. According to some reports, the French president has also been invited to attend the conference.

Iraqi Mustafa al-Kadhimi recently told a group of journalists in Washington that Iraq will seek to play a bigger role in bringing regional powers together.

The Iraqi politicians believe that they should “reduce and manage peripheral tensions” so that they can create a situation within their own country to focus on main issues such as “power” and “governance”.

Most politicians in Iraq are eager to find a special place in the region, the former diplomat remarked.

“In other words, one of the main purposes of Baghdad is to promote the status and influence of this country in regional and international developments,” he opined.

“Iran sees no limit to improve ties with reginal states”

The former diplomat said such an appetite has made Iraq interested in organizing such a conference and mediate between countries.

Such an effort is not new in Iraq, he said, adding Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki started such efforts in his second administration and after the defeat of Daesh similar efforts were conducted by President Birham Salih and Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mehdi.

The former ambassador to Iraq said in a visit to Baghdad on January 2020 by Major General Qassem Soleimani, which led to his assassination by the U.S., Soleimani was going to meet then Iraq’s prime minister to convey Iran’s response to efforts by Baghdad to heal the rift between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

He went on to say that Iran is an “active, influential, and powerful” country in the region that sees no limit in strengthening relations with regional countries except the Zionist regime of Israel.

“Our relationship is very good with most Arab countries like Oman, Qatar, Iraq and Syria; it is normal with countries such as Jordan and have certain problems with certain (countries) like Saudi Arabia,” he explained.

“Tensions have badly affected interests of all regional countries”

The new Iranian administration in Iran also sees no limitations to cement ties with these countries, Danayeefar remarked.

He cited initiatives like the Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) as examples of efforts by Tehran to improve ties with neighbors and it even started dialogue with certain countries.

Even if Iraq did not try to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia, there was a will by the Islamic Republic to heal the rift with Riyadh “but the point is that whether the other side also has a will for serious dialogue, or it is waiting for the time to see the fate of the Vienna (nuclear) talks,” the former ambassador to Iraq pointed out.

He went on to say if Saudi Arabia is trying to “buy time” and waiting to see the result of the Vienna talks, there will be no “good prospects”.

“But if Riyadh shows it is serious for talks with Tehran and take practical steps, then we should witness a restoration of relations between the two countries.”

The prerequisite to mend the ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia is that talks should be “serious and transparent”, he said, adding if they just want to hold talks on the Yemen crisis “it will show that they are not serious in the talks.”

Insisting that Tehran is firm to mend it ties with the Saudi Kingdom, the former ambassador said, “Iran believes that cooperation between regional countries is essential and relations between countries should be improved because tensions have hurt the interests of all countries and the winner of these tensions is the Zionist regime.”

Asked whether regional countries have the capability to reach a consensus about regional issues, he said, “If there is a proper political will by all sides there is the possibility of an agreement.”

He added, “In fact, if the sides should determination for managing tensions, there will be the possibility of achieving an agreement despite difficulties.”

The senior analyst on regional affairs argued if the “knots between Iran and Saudi Arabia is untied then other knots will also be untied.”

It is not so that the Saudis don’t want to resolve the disputes, rather they imagine that it will not benefit them and this will only favor Tehran and increase Tehran’s influence in the West Asia region, he commented.

He said the Saudis have two views toward Iran.

One view is that the relations with Iran will create a new situation in the region and will unlock the deadlock in the region and pave the ground for great developments, he said.

The other view is that “we gain nothing in this relationship with Iran and instead we will endorse the behaviors and the moves of Iran,” he pointed out.

In addition to these two views there is a pressure by the United States on the Saudi not seek reproachment with Iran, he pointed out.

PA/PA

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