Saudi Arabia and Iran re-establish diplomatic ties

March 2023 The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran re-established diplomatic ties after a seven-year period of no sanctioned diplomatic contact. The two Islamic nations are regional powers in the Middle East and have been engaged in a proxy war for several decades. 

This newly negotiated diplomatic lifeline has been hailed by many experts as a key to a more peaceful and prosperous Middle East. China played a central role in the negotiating process, leading many in the West to question the true intentions of this new dialogue. 

The heart of the Saudi-Iranian conflict lies in the deep religious differences between the two nations. Iran’s official state religion is Shia Islam, while the Saudi government promotes the Sunni branch of Islamic thought. These theocratic contentions have often resulted in armed conflict and have forced the two nations into civil wars across the Middle East. 

The United States has also played a central role in the conflict between the two Middle Eastern nations. Saudi Arabia is a key U.S. ally, with the Saudi-American partnership dating back to the early 1950s. Iran was also once an important U.S. partner as the U.S. supported the Shah who was the authoritarian leader of Iran during the 1970s. However, after the Islamic revolution in 1979, which saw the Shah overthrown, relations quickly deteriorated into a fierce rivalry that has continued ever since. The U.S. State Department has welcomed the dialogue between Iran and Saudi Arabia as a consequential step towards peace in the Middle East.