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March 12, 2023 3:15 pm
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Riyadh Will ‘Test Iran’s Credibility’ Over Coming Months, Saudis Say

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avatar by i24 News

A Saudi flag flutters atop Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 20, 2018. Photo: REUTERS File Photo

i24 NewsSaudi Arabia will watch Iran’s behavior during the two-month window agreed upon to restore diplomatic ties, Saudi columnists said Sunday, reflecting wariness of the rapprochement between the region’s Sunni Muslim and Shiite rival powers.

The breakthrough on Friday brokered by China followed several rounds of Saudi-Iranian talks in a bid to contain tensions, at a time of Gulf frustration over what they perceive as gradual US disengagement from the region.

Tehran and Riyadh said they agreed to resume diplomatic relations and reopen embassies by May, adding that their foreign ministers would meet to implement the deal.

“The two-month period… is the first test of Iran’s credibility and proof of good intentions as we must see the start of real change in the regional landscape and a real correction in its dealings with the Kingdom,” Saudi columnist Hamoud Abu Taleb wrote in the Okaz daily.

Another columnist, Abdullah al-Otaibi, said in the Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that he thought the timeline to reopen embassies would “test” Iran’s commitment and said Beijing could play a more effective role than “failed” Western efforts with Tehran.

A main source of tension is Yemen, where Riyadh leads a military coalition that has been battling the Iran-aligned Houthi movement since 2015. But Gulf states have grown increasingly disillusioned with key ally and security guarantor the United States.

“It is natural to have diplomatic ties even if at a low level because Iran’s expansionist approach has created many touch points with Saudi Arabia… (But) we have to keep our eyes open,” wrote Saudi columnist Tariq al-Homayed.

“China is the guarantor for this agreement. This will be important if Iran does not comply,” he added.

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