Analysis: Iran-Saudi truce, China's growing influence in the Middle East - M5 Dergi
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Analysis: Iran-Saudi truce, China’s growing influence in the Middle East

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The agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia represents a positive development for the entire Middle East region and is widely regarded as a diplomatic and political victory for China

Last Friday, Iran and Saudi Arabia announced that they have agreed to resume diplomatic relations and end hostilities. The Chinese government has brokered the deal between the two estranged neighbors and regional enemies. With the initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the two countries have decided to exchange ambassadors and reopen embassies. According to the news agencies, the surprise development was announced in Beijing after several days (from March 6 to March 10) of intense deliberations between the two countries’ top officials.

While Iran was represented by Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Adm. Ali Shamkhani, Saudi Arabia was represented by Minister of State and National Security Adviser Musa’id bin Muhammad Al Aiban. According to the statement made by the Chinese government, Wang Yi, a top Chinese diplomat and member of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee and director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, facilitated the talks between the two countries.

According to the deal reached in Beijing, the two countries have agreed to resolve the disagreements between them through dialogue, to respect the sovereignty of the other, and not to interfere in the domestic affairs of other states. They have also agreed to cooperate in specific fields in their bilateral relations. In addition, together with China, they have expressed their commitment to promoting regional and international peace and security.

Before the Chinese involvement, some regional countries such as Iraq, Oman and Qatar tried to mediate between the two countries. Although they have taken specific steps for the last two years, their attempts have failed to solve the tension. Therefore, the successful Chinese mediation between the two Middle Eastern countries is a watershed development with regional and essential global implications. For this reason, it is considered a breakthrough development that must be analyzed thoroughly.



The growing relations between China and the two Middle Eastern countries have paved the path for the instrumental role that China has played. Beijing has increased its influence in both Riyadh and Tehran. In an official statement, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out that China will continue to play a positive and constructive role in establishing close communication and dialogue between the two countries.

Turning point

There are several significant results of the deal brokered by Beijing. First of all, this is a turning point since China has begun to take political initiatives in the Middle East. Chinese officials have stated that this agreement will allow these two states to get rid of external interferences and thus be able to control their political fates. The statement made by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin stressing that they respect the “stature of Middle Eastern countries as the masters of this region and oppose geopolitical competition” in the region was remarkable. Wenbin has also pointed out that “the future of the Middle East could always be in the hands of the countries in the region.”

Considering that the traditional colonialist countries of the West have been intervening in the region’s domestic affairs, the Chinese messages to both the regional actors and the Western powers have drawn the attention of political observers. Chinese officials have clearly explained that, unlike Western countries, China will not impose any condition on the regional states. For China, the Middle Eastern countries can choose their development paths.

Despite the above-quoted careful explanations by the Chinese officials, it is clear that China has emerged as a stabilizer power in the Middle East. It seems that the Chinese influence will continue to rise at the expense of the decline of the impact of Western countries. Although U.S. officials have stated that the United States supports the efforts to de-escalate tensions in the region, they are not happy about their role being hijacked by other powers. On the one hand, Saudi Arabia will begin to act more freely in its foreign relations, which the U.S. will not welcome. On the other hand, there will be fewer instruments and actors to mobilize against Iran.

Win for China

It is clear to everybody that the agreement is a positive development for the Middle Eastern states and a diplomatic and political win for China. This agreement and the following confidence-building measures will have concrete implications for regional products. For example, it may cause positive developments in the Yemeni crisis, a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. For China, it is critical that the two regional powers, Iran and Saudi Arabia, acknowledge the influence of China in the region. Soon, China, the biggest trade partner of both countries, will increasingly transfer its economic presence into political and diplomatic power.

The agreement will cause a reshuffle of the cards in the region. On the one hand, the brokered deal can be considered a negative development for Israel, which wants to isolate Iran in the area. On the other hand, the normalization of relations between Riyadh and Tehran will have substantial implications on the perception of other Gulf countries toward Iran. Given Saudi Arabia was the most anti-Iran state in the region, other Arab countries will benefit from this normalization.

While most regional actors have welcomed the deal brokered by China, some actors, such as Israel and the U.S., will try to disrupt this normalization process in the region. It seems increasingly difficult for the U.S. to propose itself as an honest broker between the Middle Eastern countries, and alternatives such as China will try to fill the vacuum. Supported by some global powers such as China, the regional governments will be able to resist the external interventions of the Western countries. At least, similar moves will allow Middle Eastern countries to diversify their foreign relations and thus increase their autonomy in international politics.

Source: DailySabah

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