Prospects of rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran

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This article is featured in Orient IV/2023.

The MENA region has long been marred by geopolitical tensions and conflicts, with the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran standing out as a prominent and enduring source of instability. This article explores the prospects of rapprochement, shedding light on the potential for reconciliation and its implications for regional peace and stability, reviewing the key drivers motivating rapprochement, including economic interests, shared security concerns and the desire for increased regional influence. It also considers the role of external factors, such as the United States and Russia, in facilitating or obstructing potential reconciliation efforts and examines the potential consequences and challenges associated with a thaw in relations. The strained bilateral relationship, characterised by proxy conflicts, religious divides and regional power struggles, has had profound consequences on the region. However, recent developments and shifts in regional dynamics have sparked cautious optimism about the possibility of improved relations between these two influential nations. The implications of a Saudi-Iran rapprochement could be far-reaching, impacting not only the geopolitical landscape of the MENA region but also global energy markets, the resolution of regional conflicts and the broader prospects for peace and stability. In conclusion, the prospects of rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the MENA region present a complex and evolving dynamic with significant implications. By analysing the factors driving this potential reconciliation and assessing the potential outcomes, this article offers insights into a critical issue that has the potential to reshape the future of the MENA region.

Aditya Anshu is an Assistant Professor of International Relations, Dept of International Relations, Abu Dhabi University, UAE. He earned his Ph.D. in international relations from JNU, New Delhi, India. Previously, he has worked with Bennett University and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, India. His rich experience of internships and study includes the Embassy of India in the United States and Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, South Korea.

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