A Turkish reading of the secrets of the “secret rapprochement” between Saudi Arabia and Iran


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An article by the Turkish writer and political analyst, Burhanuddin Duran, addressed the dimensions of the ongoing secret talks between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran in the past period and their relationship to developments in the region and the world after Joe Biden assumed the presidency of the United States.

In his article in the Daily Sabah newspaper, Doran said that the rapprochement that Saudi Arabia and Iran are trying to make “is the latest example of repositioning in the Middle East.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told his country’s public broadcaster last week that he wanted a “good and distinguished relationship” with Iran. According to the writer.

Mohammed bin Salman also expressed his desire to solve the problems his country and its regional partners face with Tehran in order to develop a positive, mutually beneficial relationship.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh similarly responded to Mohammed bin Salman’s warm messages, indicating Iran’s interest in ushering in a new era of interaction and cooperation.

According to media reports, officials from the two countries have been meeting in secret since January.

Doran believes that it is no secret to anyone that the Saudis, who were abandoned by the Biden administration in Yemen, want to get out of isolation. The Crown Prince’s decision to abandon building an anti-Iran bloc has many and varied dimensions.

According to the writer, the maximum pressure policy practiced by the Trump administration, which was put in place in cooperation with the leaders of the Gulf, failed to push Tehran to the negotiations. And with its eagerness to restore the nuclear deal, it seems unlikely that the Biden administration will insist on the terms of former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The attempt by ambitious Gulf princes to remodel the region also failed. Mohammed bin Salman, whose reputation was severely tarnished by the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, remains committed to Vision 2030 and fighting extremism.

However, his international stature is not what it was when he spent a month on a promotional tour in Washington. In turn, Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, is trying to repair relations behind closed doors after his plan to establish a new regional order failed and all his efforts failed to contain both Iran and Turkey.

And the writer continued: In fact, even the blockade of Qatar did not succeed in achieving any results. Therefore, the Gulf states aborted the siege on January 5, 2021, although Doha did not agree to any of their demands, including the closure of the Turkish military base in the country.

Moreover, it became clear that the United States would continue to withdraw from the region. Washington is expected to focus on withdrawing from Iraq after its withdrawal from Afghanistan, while adhering to its current commitments in Syria rather than bearing more burdens or playing more roles in the Middle East. This situation fuels competition not only between regional powers but with Russia as well.

Last but not least, all influential countries seek to mend strained relations and embark on a new beginning in light of the emerging balance of power. These countries are now taking precautionary steps so that they are not surprised when the next power struggle occurs.

Turkey’s attempts at normalization with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, as well as its efforts to reduce the escalation with Saudi Arabia and Israel, are directly linked to this reality.

Likewise, Israel realizes that the process of normalization with the Arab countries slowed down after the defeat of former US President Donald Trump, and it understands well that Iran will have a stronger role in this new phase.

One cannot expect that attempts at normalization in pursuit of a new beginning by regional powers such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran and Israel will lead to immediate results. No one is willing to make major concessions, so all sides will have to make gradual concessions while each makes partial adjustments.

In the end, no country intends to abandon its policy of putting pressure on bilateral relations to start over. For example, Saudi Arabia cannot expect Iran to close its nuclear program or stop developing ballistic missiles. But it will suffice to stop the attacks of Shiite militias such as the Houthis on its territory.

Likewise, Egypt cannot expect Turkey to withdraw from Libya as part of its rapprochement with it. It is important to consider the limits of normalization when it comes to Turkish foreign policy. So the process will be slow, but it will bring with it dynamic changes to address the real issues.

Today we are on the verge of a new era, in which all parties monitor each other and all parties have the freedom to speak and negotiate with whomever they wish.


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