Saudi Arabia seeks Iraq’s help to ease tensions with Iran

MENA

Published: 2017-08-14 12:34

Last Updated: 2017-08-14 15:22


Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman welcomed Iraqi Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr in Jeddah on July 30. (Photo Credit: Reuters)
Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman welcomed Iraqi Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr in Jeddah on July 30. (Photo Credit: Reuters)
Roya News Source

According to al-Jazeera, the Iraqi satellite channel al-Ghadeer reported that crown prince Mohammad bin Salman asked prime minister Haider al-Abadi for help to mend Riyadh’s relationship with Tehran.

The channel cited Iraq’s interior minister Qasim al-Araji saying: “During our visit to Saudi Arabia, they also asked us to do so, and we said that to [the] Iranian side. The Iranian side looked at this demand positively,” on Sunday.

“The calm and stability and the return of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have positive repercussions on the region as a whole.”

Araji has been making trips since July between Tehran and Riyadh to discuss “several issues” with top officials.

Meanwhile, the Iranian news agency ISNA quoted him saying Mohammad bin Salman wanted to “ease tensions” with Iran.

Iraq’s mediation comes at a crucial time for the region.

The ongoing diplomatic crisis between the Saudi-bloc, which includes the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt is an attempt to pressure Qatar on its relationship with Iran among other reasons.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are also involved in a “war of words”, with proxies engaged in armed conflict in Yemen and Syria.

This is the first attempt to mend Tehran and Riyadh’s relationship, after Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran after protesters attacked its embassy in Tehran. The protests were sparked by Saudi Arabia’s decision to execute Shia religious leader Nimr al-Nimr, who was put to death along with 46 mostly Sunni Muslims convicted of terrorism charges.

The death of Iranian Hajj pilgrims in 2015 also fueled tensions between the two countries. However, reports on ISNA state that Araji reportedly told Salman that Riyadh "should show the best behaviour towards Iranian pilgrims", by allowing them to visit Janna al-Baqi cemetery, an important site for Shia Muslims located in Medina.

Could this be the start of a new chapter for the Persian Gulf?