Tehran Signals Intention To Normalize Relations With Riyadh
“We should establish security in the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz through expanding our cooperation and preventing foreign powers to interfere.” – Iranian President Rouhani.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed on Tuesday his country’s willingness to normalize ties with the Sunni-majority influential Arab Gulf country of Saudi Arabia.
“Iran believes that there is no problem in developing ties with neighboring countries and resuming relations with the Saudi Arabia”, President Rouhani was quoted as saying during a meeting in Tehran with the Omani Foreign Minister, Yousef Bin Alawi.
Rouhani added that all regional countries should come together to create peace and stability in the region. The President referred to his country’s initiative for regional stability, which is called Hormuz, named after the Strait of Hormuz.
During the recent 74th summit of the UN’s General Assembly, Rouhani revealed that his country has prepared an initiative for regional peace in the Gulf region. The head of the Islamic Republic of Iran told the summit that peace and stability can be maintained without foreign interference in the region.
“We should establish security in the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz through expanding our cooperation and preventing foreign powers to interfere,” he said.
However, he also criticized the policies of Saudi Arabia in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, saying that the policies have so far “failed to bear fruits.”
He also urged the Saudi Arabia to adopt new policies in a way that would solve all regional problems, urging Saudi leaders to put their differences with Iran.
In October Foreign Minister of Iran, Javad Zarif signaled his country’s willingness to resume diplomatic channels with Saudi Arabia and jointly sort out regional problems.
Javad was quoted by Reuters as demanding Saudi Arabia to stop what he termed ‘killing people,’ before embarking on any such talks.
In 2017, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Adel Aljubeir, described similar Iranian remarks as ‘laughable’.
Long Time Foes
Diplomatic ties between Tehran and Riyadh have been severed in recent years, as the two sides have been reportedly engaged in a proxy war in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of sponsoring Yemeni Hauthi Shiite-Islamist insurgents, who have carried out multiple attacks on targets inside the Saudi Arabian territories and caused notable harm across the country.
Tension escalated in recent months after two Saudi Arabian oil refinery facilities were attacked by Hauthi missiles in September. The attack set the refineries aflame, causing half of the production of the facilities to cut off.
The Hauthis claimed responsibility for the missiles in a statement, although their statement was largely doubted and could not be verified.
The United States blamed the Iran-linked Hauthis for the attacks on the Saudi Arabian oil refineries. President Donald Trump hinted at the possibility that the US could take a military action against Iran.
One month after the attacks, Iranian oil tanker Sbiti was reportedly attacked with missiles. The missiles were believed to be fired from the Red Sea, within Saudi Arabia’s territorial waters and about 96.6 kilometers away from the Saudi Arabia’s port city of Jeddah. The attack damaged the tanker’s two main tanks.
Shortly after the incident, the National Iranian Tanker Company rejected claims that the Iranian tanker was hit by missiles launched from Saudi Arabia.
The remarks by Iranian President Rouhani follow Saudi Arabia’s release of 200 Hauthi prisoners of the war in Yemen from Saudi Arabian prisons, where Saudi Arabia has led an Arab military coalition.
The release of those prisoners is said to be part of United Nations-led efforts for peace in Yemen, meant to end a five-year unrest in the region.