Iran and Saudi Arabia have agreed to restore diplomatic relations in a deal brokered by China. A former US diplomat says the move is a "middle finger to Biden" and signals Beijing's rising influence in the region, John Haltiwanger reported for Business Insider.
Photo Insert: The major diplomatic breakthrough between Saudi Arabia and Iran brokered by China lowers the probability of armed conflict between the Mideast rivals, who have been butting heads for the past several years.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have restored ties with the help of China, agreeing to reopen embassies in their respective capitals. Tehran and Riyadh are historic rivals, and both have fueled a bloody eight-year war in Yemen.
The Saudi and Iranian governments reestablishing diplomatic ties lowers the temperature in the region and raises hopes that their proxy war in Yemen will come to an end.
The agreement also has the potential to throw a wrench in efforts to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, given the latter and Iran are longtime enemies. Israel has appeared to suggest it could take military action against Iran over its accelerating nuclear program.
At the same time, the deal amounts to a slap in the face to the Biden administration. It's a sign that the Saudi government, under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), is willing to increase ties with US adversaries and could have major implications for the future of the region.
"Stunning at a time when US-Chinese ties are at an all-time low and US-Iranian tensions rising that MBS does a deal that boosts Beijing and legitimizes Tehran. It's a middle finger to Biden and a practical calculation of Saudi interests," Aaron David Miller, a former US diplomat who advised multiple secretaries of state on the Middle East, said in a tweet.