On May 5th, 2021, Iraqi President SALIH said that negotiations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have occurred in Iraq “more than once”. SALIH revealed this in an interview broadcast live online with the Beirut Institute think tank.
“The Middle East has been condemned to a cycle of conflict and instability over the last few decades … It’s time to move beyond,” SALIH said.
Diplomats from Iran and Saudi Arabia hope that direct communications between the rival Middle Eastern countries will calm regional tensions.
The Iraqi president said: “Iran is our neighbor and we want to integrate it into the regional framework, but we are also keen on our sovereignty. We do not want Iraq to turn into an arena of conflict”.
US and Iran have engaged in indirect talks in Vienna that seek to revive an international pact reached in 2015 with the Western powers on its nuclear programme, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Former US President TRUMP withdrew the US from JCPOA in 2018 and levied crippling sanctions on Iran, adopting a “maximum pressure” policy.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin SALMAN said his country seeks positive and special relations with Iran, remarks that have been welcomed by the Iranian foreign ministry.
The two countries severed diplomatic relations in 2016 and are currently facing off multiple proxy conflicts, including in Yemen.
The killing of Iranian general SOLEIMANI in a US airstrike in Baghdad in January 2020 brought the region close to war. Iran responded with limited missile strikes against a US base in Iraq, the first such direct attack, but took no further action.
Iraqis hope for a general regional detente that would allow their country to rebuild instead of being used as an arena for US, Gulf Arab, and Iranian score-settling.
“The war against ISIS and terrorism cannot be won by (only) military means,” SALIH said. “We have succeeded in liberating our land with the help of our friends but terrorism remains.”
This article was edited using the data from Aljazeera.com, Reuters.com, Iranintl.com, and Aa.com.tr, English.alaraby.co.uk