Iran-Saudi Rapprochement Won’t Change Much, Insists Israeli Analyst

Iran remains the heart of Shia Islam, and Saudi Arabia the custodian of Sunni Islam. Not even China can make the two warring factions trust one another.

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: Iran, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud
Illustration. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud. Photo: EPA-EFE/HAYOUNG JEON

Senior Israeli Middle East analyst Ehud Ya’ari on Sunday urged a more moderate and informed reaction to news of renewed diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

“Some proportion, my friends!” Ya’ari opened his article on the N12 news portal. “Reactions to the renewal of diplomatic ties between the two biggest rivals in the Persian Gulf have so far been exaggerated and alarmist.”

He then sought to inject some facts into the discussion.

  1. Iran remains the home base of Shia Islam, while Saudi Arabia is still ground zero for Sunni Islam. The two branches of Islam have not suddenly come to some accord. And religion continues to play an overriding role in the politics of every Middle Eastern state. So don’t expect these two custodians of Islam’s warring factions to suddenly trust one another.
  2. This is not an unprecedented development. Iran and Saudi Arabia maintained embassies in one another’s capitals up until 2016, when Riyadh executed a local Shiite scholar for incitement. Before that the two countries had diplomatic relations, but that didn’t mean they trusted one another.
  3. Great enmity remains between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and the two are not going to suddenly become partners in fulfilling the agenda of one side or the other.

Ya’ari noted that the agreement brokered by China made reference to an unimplemented 2001 deal calling for security coordination between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but the Israeli said that “only a gullible person would believe this will now happen.”

Nor does he worry that the renewal of diplomatic relations of convenience between Iran and Saudi Arabia will prevent the latter from normalizing relations with Israel. Ya’ari pointed out that both the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain also maintain diplomatic relations with Iran, and both now host Israeli embassies in their capitals.


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