· (March 10, 2023 / JNS) In a move on Friday that came as a surprise to some, Saudi Arabia and Iran announced renewed ties brokered by China, including the reopening of their respective embassies within two months. It came rather suddenly, even though the two nations have communicated officially for two years now and seen an abatement of cross-border attacks.
Early reports on social media interpreted the news as China’s rise and Washington’s decline on the global diplomatic stage. But John Kirby, a National Security Council spokesman, said that internal and external pressures on Tehran, rather than only China’s invitation, brought Iran to the table.
Kirby said the United States welcomes any efforts to de-escalate tensions in the Middle East region, and U.S. President Joe Biden outlined de-escalation, diplomacy and deterrence as key U.S. policy pillars on a visit to the region last year.
He added that it was unclear whether the new agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran would affect potential relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel. “We obviously continue to support normalization,” he said.
On Thursday, a congressional subcommittee meeting addressed expanding the Abraham Accords, as members searched for answers to questions pertaining to Israeli-Saudi normalization and peace between Israel and the Palestinians. That same day, The Wall Street Journal published a report that Saudi Arabia asked Washington for several things in exchange for advancing normalization with Israel.