Iran-Saudi talks resume

Iran

Published on Monday, 25 April 2022 Back to articles

Saudi and Iranian flags

The Saudi–Iran security dialogue that had been paused over the past seven months resumed in Iraq as of 21 April. This is the fifth round of security talks designed to de-escalate tensions between the two regional powers. 

In the last meeting, in September 2021, the powerful secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Ali Shamkhani, met Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir at Baghdad International Airport. The mediator was Iraq’s former prime minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. 

In the aftermath of Iraqi elections in October 2021, however, no new talks were proposed. This was in part because of political uncertainty in Iraq and in part due to new tensions between Tehran and Riyadh. 

Arab sources have said that that Iran would send a high-level Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) representative to meet ‘a representative at the intelligence service level approved by [Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Salman himself.’

Regional sources have told Iran Strategic Focus that Saudi Arabia’s strategic goal is to find a sustainable solution to the Yemen crisis, while Tehran would like Saudi support for its bid to circumvent US sanctions. 

The two sides are working on a roadmap to address the various security and intelligence issues, including the potential re-opening of embassies and restoration of full diplomatic relations.

In recent weeks, Tehran has been adopting a softer tone towards Saudi Arabia. On 12 April, while welcoming the truce in Yemen, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remarked, ‘I have a word of advice out of benevolence to Saudi officials: Why do you continue a war that you are certain you will not win? Find a way out of the war.’ 

If the two sides continue this track of dialogue, it will certainly help the process of finding a solution to the Yemen conflict. It’s true that Tehran does not control the Houthis in Yemen, but its representatives are able to talk more efficiently with Houthi leaders about opportunities to cease hostilities.

A resolution to the Yemen crisis, though complex, could also help the overall Saudi–Iran relations.

This excerpt is taken from Iran Strategic Focus, our monthly intelligence report on Iran. Click here to receive a free sample copy.

The April 2022 issues of Iran Strategic Focus also includes the following:

Commentary

  • JCPOA in limbo: Is the current impasse sustainable?

Politics & Society

  • Iran–Afghanistan border
  • Nuclear site moved
  • A new missile strategy?
  • Iran–Saudi talks resume
  • Society in brief: Qalibaf under pressure; Khamenei’s kudos; Teacher protests: COVID-19 update

Special Feature

  • Iran and the global order: foreign policy orientation; Popular views; Rating relationships on the US, China, Russia, and Arab countries

Profile

  • Mohammadreza Bahonar

Economy & Energy

  • Inflation and currency
  • Poverty and distributive policies 
  • Trade performance
  • Disputed offshore Iran–Saudi–Kuwait gas field
  • Compelling environmental action

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