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US not an ‘honest broker’ in Saudi, Iran talks

March 15, 2023 at 1:31 pm

Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence minister Prince Turki al-Faisal bin Abdulziz al-Saud [FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images]

Neither the US or Europe could have been an “honest broker” between rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, Riyadh’s former intelligence chief Turki Al-Faisal said yesterday. Speaking in an interview with AFP, the 78-year-old explained why China managed to successfully mediate one of the most bitter rivalries in the region given that the West has failed for so long.

“Neither the US or Europe would have been able to be an honest broker between the two parties,” said Al-Faisal who is the current chairman of King Faisal Foundation’s Centre for Research and Islamic Studies. “China was the logical partner in making that happen.”

Faisal hopes that the deal could be a turning point for the region, especially in their disagreements over Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq. Riyadh has been accusing Iran of fuelling sectarian tensions in the region and Faisal thinks that the agreement may lead to an improvement on Iran’s conduct.

Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed, on Friday, to re-establish relations after a seven-year diplomatic rupture. The two countries were said to have been trying to iron out their differences and, according to news reports, Iran’s top Commander General Qasem Soleimani – who was assassinated by the US in 2020 – is said to have been in Iraq to discuss moves to ease tensions between Tehran and Riyadh. Israel later admitted to its role in the assassination.

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Asked if peace between Iran and Saudi Arabia is likely to jeopardise normalisation between Riyadh and Israel, Al-Faisal said that a peace deal between Saudi and Israel is nothing more than media reporting and normalisation between the kingdom and the apartheid state is not guaranteed.

Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to reopen their embassies and missions within two months and committed to non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, according to a joint statement issued with China.

In Washington there has been nervousness around the peace agreement with speculations over America’s weakening influence in the region.