Noha Mahmoud - Dubai
April 18, 2021
[url=https://media.voltron.alhurra.com/Drupal/01live-106/styles/sourced/s3/2021-03/WhatsApp Image 2021-02-19 at 1.51.55 pm.jpeg?itok=RHVN9RCV][/url]
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[url=https://media.voltron.alhurra.com/Drupal/01live-106/styles/sourced/s3/2021-03/WhatsApp Image 2021-02-19 at 1.51.55 pm.jpeg?itok=RHVN9RCV]Al-Kazemi's visit comes a month after reports of attacks targeting Saudi Arabia from inside Iraq[/url]
In addition to his friendship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Al-Kazemi also has good relations with Iran's intelligence services.
And on Sunday, the Financial Times newspaper, citing those it described as informed officials, said that earlier this April, Baghdad witnessed talks between " [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] ", the results of which may be reflected in the situation in the Middle East.
About a decade ago, relations between Tehran and Riyadh soured due to proxy wars in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, in which each of the two countries supported a different party to the conflict in them.
An official described "the first round of the Saudi-Iranian talks that took place in Baghdad on the ninth of April," as "positive," according to what the newspaper quoted.
The Saudi Government Communication Center did not respond to a request by the Al-Hurra website for comment. While the Financial Times quoted a senior Saudi official as denying any talks with Iran.
However, Salem Al-Yami, a former advisor to the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, writer and researcher in international relations, does not believe that the Kingdom object to such talks, he told Al-Hurra.
And diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been cut off for four years, but the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed, last January, that Tehran is open to dialogue with Saudi Arabia, in case the latter avoids violence and neglect of regional security and cooperation with powers outside the region, she said.
The crisis erupted when Saudi Arabia executed the prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr on January 2, 2016, and Iranian protesters responded by storming the Saudi embassy in Tehran and setting it on fire, until Riyadh cut its ties with Tehran.
Al-Yami attributed the reason for the non-return of relations to "the Iranian side, which does not think of real solutions to reach balanced, normal and reasonable relations, as happens between all countries."
He said, "Iran wants to have an ideological, political and nuclear dependency as well."
Riyadh had opposed the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, calling for a nuclear deal to be concluded with stronger standards.
Saudi Arabia and its allies supported former US President Donald Trump's decision in 2018 to withdraw from the nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions on Tehran, which responded by violating numerous restrictions on its nuclear activities.
At a time when Washington and Tehran are trying to revive the old agreement, Riyadh says that the Arab Gulf states must join any negotiations on the agreement to ensure that this time it addresses the Iranian missile program, and Tehran supports its regional proxies.
And last week, a Saudi Foreign Ministry official told Reuters that confidence-building measures could pave the way for expanded talks with Gulf Arab participation.
What does Saudi Arabia want?And according to what was published by the Financial Times, the talks, led on the Saudi side by Khaled Al-Humaidan, head of General Intelligence, included the attacks of the Yemeni Houthi group, loyal to Iran, on Saudi Arabia.
The Houthis deny they are proxies of Iran and say they are fighting a corrupt regime.
The Yemeni Houthi group has intensified attacks on Saudi Arabia, which it says is intercepting most of the drones and missiles that the Houthis announce launching at airports, air bases and energy infrastructure, but some cause damage.
Al-Yami believes that Saudi Arabia will ask Iran "to stop interfering in Arab internal affairs, to take its hand from points of influence in the Arab region, especially in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, and to deal with the countries of the region with the concepts of friendship prescribed in the literature of international cooperation, and to stop the methods of arrogance and the use of traditional terminology that The Iranian political system inherited it, such as the concepts of exporting the revolution, supporting the oppressed, and sectarian power in the region.
Al-Yami added, "I think they are logical requests, and are in harmony with the responsibility and status of the contemporary modern state, with which Iran has not been operating for forty years."
The Iranian Revolution of 1979 toppled Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, a secularist ally of the West, and led to an Islamic republic led by Shiite cleric Ruhollah Khomeini.
Iran's demands?On the other hand, Masoud Al-Fak, an expert on Iranian affairs, in his interview with Al-Hurra website, believes that improving Iran's relations with major Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia will necessarily lead to improving its relations with the Arab world.
Al-Fak indicates that Iran will benefit from "trade and cultural exchange, facilitating Hajj and Umrah operations, etc." if relations with Saudi Arabia are restored.
In 2015, hundreds of pilgrims, including Iranians, died when two large groups of pilgrims collided at a crossroads in Mina, a few kilometers east of Mecca, as they were on their way to the ritual throwing of the Jamarat.
The Iranian leader, Ali Khamenei, has often criticized Saudi Arabia for managing the Hajj, calling for a new investigation to be opened into the events of 2015.
Al-Fak believes that "Saudi Arabia wants Iran to stop expanding in the region, and to stop supporting the militias, especially the Houthis."
Saudi Arabia leads a military coalition that intervened in the Yemen war in March 2015 against the Houthis, who overthrew the internationally recognized Yemeni government from Sanaa in late 2014.
In response to the Saudi military intervention, the Houthis launch attacks on the kingdom with missiles or drones.
In September 2019, the Kingdom was subjected to a major attack by a missile and a drone on oil facilities, forcing Saudi Arabia to temporarily halt more than half of its crude oil production, and resulting in a significant rise in prices.
At that time, Riyadh held Iran responsible for the attack, saying that it did not start from Yemen, which Tehran denied.
Al-Fak believes that the crisis lies in the fact that the Saudis do not want to deal with Iran until after resuming good relations with it, which may happen "provided that Iran stops supporting the militias, especially the Houthis."
Why Iraq?In conjunction with the Al-Ula agreement that the Arab Quartet countries signed with Qatar last January, Doha offered to be a mediator between the two countries to reach a reconciliation between them. But it seems that Iraq won the mediation in the end.
At the end of last month, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi visited Saudi Arabia, who had previously called for his country not to be an arena for regional conflict.
Raed Al-Azzawi, an Iraqi academic and researcher in international relations, told Al-Hurra that Iraq benefits from its strategic position and its good relations with both Saudi Arabia and Iran to solve the crises in the Gulf region.
"Iraq wants to not be affected by the problems of neighboring countries, the most dangerous of which is what is happening between Iran and Saudi Arabia," he added.
Several media outlets quoted some Western officials, an official in an Iraqi armed faction, and an Iranian security source as saying that a drone attack on Saudi Arabia was thwarted last January, which had been launched from Iraqi territory as part of an increasing wave of attacks by Iranian proxies on the Kingdom.
According to Al-Azzawi, Iraq wants its hosting of the talks to reduce the pressure on it due to the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which will affect stability and development in Iraq.
A number of Iraqi militias, loyal to Iran, have previously opposed Saudi investment and development projects in Iraq. Al-Azzawi says that Iraq seeks to benefit from the huge economic power of Saudi Arabia, and to maintain relations with Iran, aware of the tensions and direct interference.
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