Shafaq News / The British Financial Times revealed, on Sunday, that Iraq has hosted a meeting of Saudi and Iranian officials as part of efforts to contain the growing tension between the two countries, while observers have suggested that Iraq will have an important role in easing regional tension.
The newspaper quoted well-informed officials as saying that on April 9, Baghdad witnessed talks between “senior Saudi and Iranian officials”, the results of which may be reflected on the situation in the Middle East.
One of the officials described the first round of the Saudi-Iranian talks that took place in Baghdad as “positive,” according to what the newspaper quoted.
Last year, observers expected that Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi would become a mediator between the two regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, after his visit to Riyadh and Tehran, respectively, during his first foreign trip since taking office.
In addition to his friendship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, he also has good relations with Iran’s intelligence services.
About a decade ago, relations between Tehran and Riyadh soured due to proxy wars in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, in which each of the two countries supported a different party to the conflict in them.
The former advisor at the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, writer and researcher in international relations, Salem Al-Yami, says that the Kingdom does not object to such talks, according to Al-Hurra.
Al-Yami attributed the reason for the non-return of relations to “the Iranian side, which does not think of real solutions to reach balanced, normal and reasonable relations, as happens between all countries.”
“Iran wants to have an ideological, political and nuclear dependency as well,” he said.
According to the British newspaper, the discussions, which were led on the Saudi side by Khaled Al-Humaidan, Chief of General Intelligence, included the attacks of the Yemeni Houthi group, which is loyal to Iran, on Saudi Arabia.
The Houthis deny they are proxies of Iran and say they are fighting a corrupt regime.
Al-Yami believes that Saudi Arabia will ask Iran “to stop interfering in Arab internal affairs, to take its hand from points of influence in the Arab region, especially in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, and to deal with the countries of the region with the concepts of friendship prescribed in the literature of international cooperation, and to stop the methods of arrogance and the use of traditional terminology that The Iranian political system inherited it, such as the concepts of exporting the revolution, supporting the oppressed and sectarian power in the region.
“I think they are logical requests, and are in harmony with the responsibility and status of the contemporary modern state, with which Iran has not been operating for forty years,” he added.
On the other hand, Masoud Al-Fak, an expert on Iranian affairs, in his interview with Al-Hurra website, believes that improving Iran’s relations with major Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia will necessarily lead to improving its relations with the Arab world.
Al-Fak indicates that Iran will benefit from “trade and cultural exchange, facilitating Hajj and Umrah operations, etc.” if relations with Saudi Arabia are restored.
Al-Fak believes that “Saudi Arabia wants Iran to stop expanding in the region, and to stop supporting the militias, especially the Houthis.”
Al-Fak believes that the crisis lies in the fact that the Saudis do not want to deal with Iran until after resuming good relations with it, which may happen “provided that Iran stops supporting the militias, especially the Houthis.”
In conjunction with the Al-Ula agreement that the Arab Quartet countries signed with Qatar last January, Doha offered to be a mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iraq to reach a reconciliation between them. But it seems that Iraq won the mediation in the end.
At the end of last month, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi visited Saudi Arabia, who had previously called for his country not to be an arena for regional conflict.
Raed Al-Azzawi, an Iraqi academic and researcher in international relations, says that Iraq benefits from its strategic position and its good relations with both Saudi Arabia and Iran to solve the crises in the Gulf region.
“Iraq wants to not be affected by the problems of neighboring countries, the most dangerous of which is what is happening between Iran and Saudi Arabia,” he added.
According to Al-Azzawi, Iraq wants its hosting of the talks to reduce the pressure on it due to the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which will affect stability and development in Iraq.
A number of Iraqi militias, loyal to Iran, have previously opposed Saudi investment and development projects in Iraq. Al-Azzawi says that Iraq seeks to benefit from the huge economic power of Saudi Arabia, and to maintain relations with Iran, aware of the tensions and direct interference.