According to a recent report by Wall Street Journal (WSJ), a prominent meeting between Gulf Arab states and Iranian officials is set to take place later in 2023.
Chinese President Xi Jinping floated the idea for the summit at a regional summit he was present in Riyadh This past December. Per the report published on March 12, 2023 the leaders from the six member nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) embraced Xi’s proposal to de-escalate tensions with Iran.
On March 10, China hammered out a landmark deal to restore diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The two Islamic powers broke ties in 2016 and have been engaged in proxy conflicts across the Middle East in the last few decades.
Countries across the Global South praised this agreement. Many geopolitical analysts argued that this move represented a major geopolitical maneuver by China that established it as a key power broker in the Middle East. As US influence wanes in the Middle East, it appears that China is assuming the power vacuum left over.
Curiously, The Cradle reported that in the secret talks between Iranian and Saudi officials in Beijing, “all parties agreed not to use English in the negotiations, with speeches and documents conducted in Arabic, Farsi or Mandarin.”
The agreement gives Iranian and Saudi officials two months to iron out all details prior to the two Middle Eastern countries’ foreign ministers convening to sign a final deal. Expert sources said the Iran-GCC summit would take place “sometime after that.”
Per the report, the deal signed on March 10 calls on Saudi Arabia to order Iran International to “tone-down critical coverage” of Iran. Iran International is notorious for having ties to the Saudi royal family and putting out content that is deemed to be anti-Iranian. On Iran’s end, it agreed to “stop encouraging cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia” by Yemen’s Houthi rebel movement.
Saudi officials hope that China can “use its economic ties to influence Iran’s behavior,” as China is Iran’s primary oil importer.