Express View on Saudi and Iran: Welcome detente

Source– The post is based on the article “Express View on Saudi and Iran: Welcome detente” published in “The Indian Express” on 21st August 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – International relations

News– Recently, Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian’s visit to Saudi Arabia had traveled to Riyadh to offer condolences on the death of King Abdullah.

What is the historical trajectory of the relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia?

The relationship has faced challenges primarily due to their contest for leadership within the region. Iran was led by Shia leadership and Saudi Arabia by Sunni leadership.

Since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, suspicions about each other’s motives have persisted. Iran accused Saudi Arabia of providing support to Baghdad during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88). Saudi Arabia was alleged to have backed insurgents against the Iran-affiliated President Bashar al-Assad in the ongoing Syrian civil war since 2011. The Iranian nuclear program further intensified these suspicions.

Tensions escalated in 2016 when Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shia cleric. It triggered Iranian protesters to attack the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

Diplomatic relations had been severed in 1987-88 when hostilities between the regional rivals reached a peak due to clashes in Mecca involving Iranian pilgrims and attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

Why Stability in relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia holds immense significance for India?

Over 8 million Indians are residing in the West Asian and Gulf regions.

India’s energy security depends on the strength of its connections with the two primary suppliers of crude oil.

India has maintained strong affiliations with both Riyadh and Tehran. Naturally, Delhi will closely monitor these developments due to their implications for its national interests.

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