Iran-Saudi Arabia deal: the need to look beyond the US-China rivalry – Geopolitics Geopolitics News

Iran-Saudi Arabia deal: the need to look beyond the US-China rivalry – Geopolitics

JThe Iran-Saudi agreement signed in Beijing on March 10, 2023 has, predictably, drawn international attention and varied responses. Several commentators have pointed out how this deal is a strong reiteration of China’s growing influence in the Middle East, and how Washington has lost influence in recent years due to Beijing’s proactive engagement with Saudi Arabia. and Iran.

Some commentators have also blamed US policies toward the Middle East. Stephen M. Walt in an article for Foreign Police titled “The Saudi Detente Is a Wake-Up Call for America” ​​points to the fact that China was in a position to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran because “…it enjoys cordial ties and trade with a majority of countries in the region.”

Walt also makes a valid point that even though the WE has “special relations” with some countries in the Middle East, it has none at all with others. As a result, countries like Saudi Arabia take “US support for granted”. Walt too makes to the point that the policy aimed at isolating Iran has been a failure.

While there is no doubt that China’s growing influence in the Middle East cannot be ignored, what has been overlooked by many analysts and commentators is the fact that the United States has not criticized the Saudi-Iranian agreement per se.

On the other hand, he haswelcomed the agreementsaying it should be viewed positively as it could help stabilize the Middle East. The United States also said Saudi Arabia had kept the first informed of the deal.

Washington has expressed lack of confidence in Iran’s compliance with the commitments it made in the deal and has also made no secret of its skepticism about China’s growing influence in the Middle East.

Saudi agreement with the United States

A few days after the Iran-Saudi agreement, two Saudi airlines (newly created Riyadh Airlines and Saudi Arabian Airlines) also declared that they were order 121 Boeing aircraft. White House Press Secretary Karen Jean Pierre commenting on the announcement said: “another milestone in eight decades of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and American industry.”

The agreement between Saudi Arabia and the United States is estimated at $37 billion. The new Riyadh Airlines seeks to promote Riyadh as an aviation hub to compete with Dubai (UAE) and a major tourist destination. This agreement is a clear reiteration of how Saudi Arabia has a strong economic relationship with Washington, and while the bilateral Riyadh-Beijing relationship may be important, it is unlikely to have a significant impact on relations between Washington DC and Riyadh. It also underscores the fact that some of the analysis on the Tehran-Riyadh deal goes too far when it comes to China’s influence vis-à-vis the Middle East.

India’s reaction to the deal

Significantly, India, which in recent years has been praised for its balanced approach to the Russian-Ukrainian war, has also been able to strengthen its ties with the two Gulf Cooperation Council countries. (CCG) such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia as well as with Iran. While welcoming the agreement, India said it still has recommended “Dialogue and diplomacy as a means of resolving differences.”

While India’s economic and strategic ties with Riyadh have seen a significant recovery in recent years, India has been focusing – since 2021 – on the Chabahar Port project, which is an important gateway not only to Afghanistan and Central Asia, but also potentially towards Europe via the INSTC corridor of the International North-South Transport Corridor. In 2022, India’s trade with Russia via INSTC increased despite the sanctions imposed on Russia.

Significantly, relations between Iran and India came under strain when India stopped buying oil from Iran in 2019 after the United States removed economic sanctions waivers it had granted to India and other countries over oil imports from Iran. The American sanctions had also had an impact on the progress of the Chabahar project – to the chagrin of Iran.

Iran’s Ambassador to India Iraj Elahi reiterated the importance of giving Chabahar a boost and Tehran also urged India to resume buying Iranian oil. He also said that the deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran should be viewed positively by India. Said Go awayi: “.. This would be beneficial for India as it would help to intensify stability and peace in the Persian Gulf region. China competes with the United States as a superpower and India is a rising power.

It would be pertinent to point out that the deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran is viewed only through the lens of simplistic geopolitical binaries – the Sino-US rivalry. Not only the United States, but even India, which has strained relations with China, welcomed the deal. Stability in the Middle East and better relations between GCC countries and Iran will benefit countries that share strong ties with both.

[Photo by Tasnim News Agency]

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

Iran-Saudi Arabia deal: the need to look beyond the US-China rivalry – Geopolitics

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