- Recently, Saudi and Iranian officials held bilateral talks, mediated by China in Beijing, that concluded with an agreement to restore diplomatic ties which have been severed since 2016.
Recent changes in Saudi’s Foreign Policy
- Normalization of diplomatic ties with Iran.
- Saudi Arabia agrees to join SCO as a dialogue partner.
- Various reports suggest Russia mediating talks between Saudi and Syria.
- Saudi-Omani delegation to Yemen for permanent ceasefire with Houthis.
Why are these changes now?
- Saudi Arabia’s response to the Iran problem has shifted from strategic rivalry and proxy conflicts to tactical de-escalation and mutual coexistence.
- Kingdom’s recent regional bets were either unsuccessful or only partially successful in case of Syrian Civil war and Yemen conflict.
- In parallel, the U.S.’s priority is shifting away from West Asia.
Is Saudi moving away from the U.S.?
- De-Americanization of West Asia is not a Saudi goal. Rather it is trying to exploit America’s weakness in the region to establish its own autonomy by building better ties with Russia and China and mending relations with regional powers without completely losing the U.S.
- The Kingdom is also trying to develop advanced missile and drone capabilities to counter Iran’s edge in these areas with help from the U.S.
- Saudi Arabia joined hands with Russia to affect oil production cuts twice since the Ukraine war began
- It has also built stronger trade and defense ties with China, and the Iran reconciliation deal, under China’s mediation, announced Beijing’s arrival as a power broker in West Asia.
- Saudi Arabia has placed orders for Boeing aircraft worth $35 billion and entered into conditional talks with the U.S. on normalizing ties with Israel.
What are the implications for the region?
- If Syria rejoins the Arab League, it would improve the overall relationship between Damascus and other Arab capitals.
- If the Saudis end the Yemen war through a settlement with Riyadh would get a calmer border.
Implications for the India and world
- It would help in ending ethnic conflict of Shia Sunni.
- It would assist India in balancing regional powers in West Asia.
- Peace in areas like Yemen, Syria would improve Oil supply in the market.
- It leads to a multi-polar world with the increasing role of China and Russia in west Asia.
- Safety of the Indian diaspora would be ensured by peace in the Persian Gulf area.
India-Saudi Arabia Bilateral Relations
What is a Dialogue Partner?