“Obviously there is a regional direction that goes along with the Saudi movement,” Mohammed Baharoon, director-general of the Dubai Public Policy Research Center, told CNN.
Dina Esfandiary, a Middle East adviser at the International Crisis Group think tank, said the Arab Gulf states have developed a “pragmatic policy” toward Iran that includes both containment and engagement “because they realized that only one of them is not just one.” would work”.
She told CNN that, when the US did not continue to defend its Arab partners after the Aramco attacks, “it became imperative [for the UAE] to secure themselves without depending on others – the US in particular – and establishing a relationship with Iran is part of that.”
“Financially and commercially, the UAE benefits the most from easing regional tensions,” Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a political science professor in the UAE, told CNN. “Even during the worst political tensions between the two countries, trade was uninterrupted. It went down, but never stopped.”
The rapprochement comes amid uncertainty over the progress of indirect talks between the US and Iran to restore the nuclear deal. A new agreement could reduce the chances of a nuclear arms race in the already tense region. But the Gulf states fear that lifting sanctions against Iran will free up billions of dollars that can be used by Tehran to further arm itself and expand its influence in Arab countries through proxies.
If the talks fail, observers say regional tensions could escalate as they did when then-US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement, potentially dragging the region to war. For the Gulf States, both scenarios are worrying.
“For the Gulf Arabs, a return to the nuclear deal or no return is more or less the same: they expect Iran to lash out in the region regardless of the outcome,” Esfandiary said. “So while they continue to monitor this closely, efforts to improve their ties are more closely tied to their security and threat perceptions than the nuclear deal itself.”
Abdulla said Iran continues to pose a serious threat to Gulf security “with or without” a nuclear deal. “So one way to deal with Iran is to continue the conversation and find common ground for good neighborly relations.”
Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are the only Arab Gulf countries without an ambassador in Tehran.
Iran said on Monday that talks with Saudi Arabia were different from talks to revive the nuclear pact, adding that cooperation between Tehran and Riyadh could help restore peace and security in the Middle East.
The resumption of diplomatic relations is “not a panacea,” Baharoon said. “Nevertheless, it is an important step. Diplomatic ties are lines of communication that directly help in reducing tensions and dealing with them. [We] can’t work together if we don’t talk to each other.”
US says Iran cuts key demand as progress on revived nuclear deal emerges
A senior US government official told CNN on Friday that Iran had dropped a key “red line” demand that had been a major sticking point in efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. The Iranians have also dropped demands related to the scrapping of several companies linked to the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the official said. Iran said on Monday that the US had “not yet responded to the proposals from the European side” and accused the US of “procrastinating” in the negotiations.
- Background: US President Joe Biden has been insisting for months that he would not lift the IRGC terrorist designation to revive the nuclear deal. The policy is one of several foreign policy decisions made by Trump that Biden has upheld. Trump labeled the IRGC a terrorist organization in 2019 as part of a “maximum pressure campaign” imposed after he pulled the US out of the deal in 2018.
- Why it matters: In its response last week to a draft nuclear deal proposed by the European Union – which the EU has described as a “final” draft – Iran did not demand that the IRGC be removed from the US list of terrorist organizations. said. “The current version of the text, and what they demand, drop it,” the official said. “So if we’re closer to a deal, that’s the reason.”
Landslide hits Iraq’s Shia shrine, kills at least 7 people
At least seven people were killed on Saturday after a landslide hit a Shia mosque west of Iraq’s Karbala province, the interior ministry said. It is not yet known how many people were buried under the rubble.
- Background: The incident took place on Saturday when a large mound next to Imam Ali’s Qattara shrine slipped due to moisture saturation, according to an Iraqi Civil Defense statement. The landslide fell on the roof of the shrine, which then collapsed on the visitors. Civil Defense said on Sunday that five bodies have so far been recovered from the rubble of the shrine. Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Sunday ordered the interior minister to directly oversee rescue efforts and to mobilize civil defense and medical services to ensure the safety of the injured and the rescue of civilians trapped beneath the ruins. to ensure.
- Why it matters: Iraq is ravaged by its worst and longest political crisis in years. At the center of this conflict are Iraqi political king Moqtada al-Sadr and a rival bloc of parties with strong ties to neighboring Iran. In his initial comments on the landslide, al-Sadr said corruption from the authorities is now hitting places of worship. “Once again, suspected corruption caused casualties among civilians. But this time, corruption involved places of worship… We call on the government to conduct an immediate and serious investigation to bring the truth to light, so that corruption does not affect mosques and places of worship, as it has done with the country’s institutions and ministries,” he said.
Plane failed to descend as pilots reportedly fell asleep during flight
- Background: Aviation analyst Alex Macheras has since taken to Twitter to express his shock at the “very worrying incident”, which he suggests may be the result of pilot exhaustion. “Pilot fatigue is nothing new and continues to pose one of the major threats to air safety – internationally,” he tweeted on Thursday.
- Why it matters: The report comes just months after pilots from Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines warned airline executives in a letter that pilot exhaustion was on the rise, urging them to view fatigue and the resulting mistakes as a safety hazard. According to the letter, rising demand for air travel as the industry begins to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, and cancellation chaos caused by severe weather, were among the reasons for the increase in pilot exhaustion.
Around the region
The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recalled its ambassador to Jordan after photos of him and his wife with a famous Lebanese singer caused a storm on social media.
The photos show the ambassador, Haidar Al Athari, and his wife posing with music star Ragheb Alama. The three are very close together, with Al Athari’s wife in the middle.
Some users accused the ambassador and his wife of violating diplomatic protocol by embracing the singer, while others described the controversy as a storm in a teacup for a country facing numerous problems. Much of the criticism was directed at the ambassador’s wife, who is holding the singer’s hand in one photo.
By Mohammed Abdelbary