The four-year blockade of Qatar by rival Gulf powers is over, but fault lines among these states remain. If the gaps are not bridged, the competition could exacerbate conflicts – and spark new ones – well outside the region.
Reconciliation with Iran continued, while dialogue with Yemen’s Huthis remained stalled and tensions surfaced with United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Iran reopened embassy in Riyadh. Three months after signing China-brokered reconciliation deal, Iran 6 June reopened embassy in Riyadh to end seven-year diplomatic absence. Saudi FM Faisal bin Farhan 17 June visited Iranian capital Tehran and described discussions as “positive and clear”; Saudi embassy in Iran has yet to open. Iranian navy commander 3 June claimed Iran would form naval alliance with India, Pakistan and Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia.
Talks remained deadlocked with Huthis, friction with UAE became visible. Although dialogue with Huthis remained stalled, first direct flight between Yemen and Saudi Arabia since 2016 17 June arrived in Jeddah city and Huthi media 21 June reported Saudi Arabia and Huthis exchanged bodies of fighters (see Yemen). Tensions between Saudi Arabia and UAE behind scenes intensified over differences in approaches to Yemen and Sudan crises, with Riyadh accusing Abu Dhabi of undermining conflict resolution efforts.
In other important developments. Saudi Arabia 4 June announced voluntary unilateral oil production cuts in July. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 6-8 June visited Saudi Arabia for meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Riyadh 11-12 June hosted Arab-China business conference.
Saudi Arabia is seeking to assert itself more and more on the international stage through mediation and raising its diplomatic profile.
Many experts still assume that whoever is in the White House will guide Saudi policy on Iran, but that simply isn’t true today.
Lowering the temperature with Iran is a smart way to lower tensions across the region and mitigate some of the proxy battles surrounding Saudi Arabia.
We can see a de-escalation in the regional layer of the [Saudi-Iranian] conflict. It is a multi-layered conflict, with domestic and regional causes, not just a proxy war
The Saudi-Iran deal is a clear sign that both countries are ready to turn the page after years of turmoil.
The US-Saudi relationship has gone through periods of intense strain before, but in my view the current low point represents a crack but not a rupture.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard talks with Abdulaziz Sager, Crisis Group’s Trustee and Founder and Chairman of the Gulf Research Center, about Riyadh’s foreign policy and diplomatic efforts seemingly aimed at mending ties in the region.
On 10 March, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to restore diplomatic relations as part of a Chinese-sponsored initiative that appears aimed at reducing tensions across the Middle East. Crisis Group experts offer a 360-degree view of the implications for the region’s many flashpoints.
Dr. Abdulaziz Sager, Founder of the Gulf Research Center and member of Crisis Group’s Board of Trustees, talks about the revival of diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia in a deal brokered by China.
On 10 March, prodded by China, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to reestablish diplomatic relations within two months, after seven years of severed ties. In this Q&A, Crisis Group experts Dina Esfandiary and Anna Jacobs look at the emerging rapprochement.
Dialogue efforts in the Gulf have stalled amid rising tensions. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2023, Crisis Group explains how the EU and its member states can help revive Saudi-Iranian and other talks.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood speaks with Crisis Group’s Middle East experts Joost Hiltermann and Dina Esfandiary about the World Cup in Qatar, regional politics and friction between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
Israel would like to forge a military alliance with the Gulf Arab monarchies as part of its strategy for checking Iran’s power projection in the region. For Gulf capitals, however, the Israeli ambitions risk too much and offer too little.
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