Iran and Saudi Arabia are restoring diplomatic relations after a 7-year break

The diplomatic rift between the powers was sparked by the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran after Riyadh executed prominent Shia Muslim cleric Nimr Al Nimr for terrorism.

Saudi Arabia and Iran restored diplomatic ties on Friday, seven years after a split that heightened tensions in the Gulf and contributed to instability in the wider Middle East. The region’s main Muslim powers, but driven by rival religious factions — Sunnis in Riyadh’s case, Shiites in Tehran — the two countries support opposing sides in several nearby conflict zones.

The settlement was brokered by China and negotiated by each nation’s top national security authorities. The last mediation attempts were made by Iraq and Oman in 2021 and 2022, respectively, without success.

The resumption of ties was confirmed by the state press machines of the two countries, which emphasize respect for sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs. The regimes are expected to reopen their embassies in the coming months.

Saudi media also reported that the countries would also agree to restart a security cooperation agreement signed in 2001, in addition to an earlier agreement on trade.

The two Middle Eastern powers have been at odds for years and have backed rival groups in the civil wars in Yemen and Syria, as well as other conflicts. In Yemen, Iran supports the Houthi rebels, while Saudi Arabia leads a military coalition that protects the government. In Syria, the Iranians are among the few allies of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, while the Saudis support the dissidents.

The diplomatic rift between the powers came after the raid on the Saudi embassy in Tehran, when Riyadh executed prominent Shia Muslim cleric Nimr Al Nimr for terrorism.

Against the decision, hundreds of Muslims attacked the place with stones, sticks and Molotov cocktails, setting fire to one of the wings of the diplomatic mission.


The United States has stated that it welcomes the restoration of ties between the nations. “Overall, we welcome any effort that helps end the war in Yemen and ease tensions in the Middle East,” said a spokesman for the US National Security Council.

Iraq and Oman also welcomed the rapprochement. Baghdad called the event a “turning of the page” in relations between the territories.

Iran announced that the deal was supported by the highest authority of the regime, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Hossein Amirabdollahian, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the country, speaking about the news on Twitter, noted that it could be the first step of the others in Tehran’s efforts to regulate diplomatic relations in the Middle East.


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