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Sunday October 01, 2023

Saudi-Iran agreement ‘beacon of hope’ for regional peace

March 21, 2023

Islamabad: Dr Rashid Ahmed Khan from University of Central Punjab has said that the recent peace agreement between Saudi and Iran brokered by China was the beginning of a “new order” in the Middle East.

Dr Khan was speaking at a webinar on ‘Saudi-Iran rapprochement’ organised by Institute of Regional Studies (IRS) here Monday. Prof Khan said that since China was not aiming at replacing the US in the region, there would not be power struggle between the two giants in future, at least from the Chinese side. According to him, China never challenged the US interests in the region in the past and had no intention to do so in the future.

On implications of the recent agreement, Dr Khan said that the Saudi-Iran rapprochement would help defuse tensions in the region, particularly in Yemen. Commenting on China’s mediatory role, he said it was not something new as China had centuries-old relations with the countries in the region and it was just the renewal of old ties. While highlighting the importance of China-Iran relations, he said Tehran had a central position in China’s silk route as it provided alternate energy supply routes in case of a blockade in the Indian Ocean. Rida Tanvir of NUML said that the recent agreement was a huge victory of Chinese diplomacy as both Tehran and Riyadh showed their complete trust on Beijing. Nevertheless, it was a litmus test for China’s global security initiative, she added. The agreement received global appreciation including from the US but with a word of caution, she said.

She maintained that Iran-Saudi rapprochement was critical for a safe, fair and secure Middle East in the years to come. She claimed that the agreement under the goodwill gesture of China had positive implications for South Asia, especially Pakistan-India relations. Echoing Dr. Khan’s statement on the implications, Ms Tanvir said that the agreement would help end the war in Yemen, a conflict wherein both Iran and Saudi Arabia were deeply entrenched.

Earlier, in her opening remarks, Aman Nisar Abbasi from IRS said that the normalisation process was in shambles for the last several years. It was Beijing’s effective diplomacy that led to a successful agreement between the two traditional rivals in the region, she added. Syed Imran Sardar from IRS said that the Saudi-Iran peace agreement was indeed a significant step, however, the sustainability of the said agreement was hanging on how far Riyadh and Tehran could compromise on their longstanding issues in actual terms. China’s continued interest in the whole mediation process was also important in that regard, he stressed.