On March 10, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the People’s Republic of China issued a joint trilateral statement announcing the normalization of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have had a tense relationship since 2016, when Iranian protesters attacked the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran after the Saudi execution of Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, a prominent Shiite cleric and a critic of the Saudi government. Saudi Arabia and its allies subsequently cut ties with Iran following these protests.
According to the joint statement, the agreement between nations “includes their affirmation of the respect for the sovereignty of states and the non-interference in internal affairs of states.”
This diplomatic move signals an important step in the leadership of China in global diplomacy, and a shift away from US hegemony, especially in West Asia. This comes after China’s announcement in December 2022 to Gulf state leaders in Riyadh, that China would work to buy oil and gas in yuan, rather than the US dollar. At the time, when asked about Saudi Arabia’s ties with Washington given strengthening relations with China, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said, “We do not believe in polarization or in choosing between sides.”
Marxist academic and journalist Vijay Prashad wrote of the agreement, “The Chinese bring together Saudi Arabia and Iran. The United States want the Saudis to join with Israel in a military bloc against Iran. You tell me who is trying to create a zone of peace for our time.”