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Saudi crown prince softens Iran rhetoric in balancing act

This was entirely predictable. The Biden Administration is showing hostility to Saudi Arabia, while working fervently to re-enter the JCPOA. Under President Trump, the United States was successfully working with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab nations to counter Iran. Those days are long gone. The Middle East is going to become a much more dangerous place in the months and years to come.

Related – Israel has no choice but to act on its own to stop Iran

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Saudi crown prince softens Iran rhetoric in balancing act

Mohammed bin Salman says in interview that Riyadh wants to have ‘good relations’ with Tehran, adding that both countries share common interests ‘to propel the region and the world to growth and prosperity’

By Ynet News, April 29, 2021

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has taken a more conciliatory public stance towards Iran, trying to balance long-held animosity with economic considerations and bridge differences with Washington over how to tackle Tehran’s regional behavior.

Tensions between Riyadh and Tehran have festered over the Yemen war, where an Iran-aligned group has increased attacks on Saudi Arabia even as the kingdom tried to lure foreign investment. Strains between the two Gulf powerhouses also grew after a 2019 assault on Saudi oil plants that Riyadh blamed on Iran, a charge Tehran denies.

While reiterating that Riyadh has a problem with Iran’s “negative behavior”, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in an interview aired late on Tuesday that Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia wanted a good relationship with Shi’ite Iran.

“We do not want for Iran to be in a difficult situation, on the contrary we want Iran to prosper and grow. We have interests in Iran and they have interests in the Kingdom to propel the region and the world to growth and prosperity,” he said.
That contrasts with remarks by Prince Mohammed in 2017, after becoming crown prince, in which he called the supreme leader of Iran “the new Hitler of the Middle East”. Earlier that year he said any contest for influence between the arch-rivals ought take place “inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia”.
With U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration taking a tougher stance on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and pressing it to end the Yemen war, the prince has moved to show he is a valuable partner able to help stabilize the region, diplomats have said.
Saudi and Iranian officials held direct talks this month, six years after cutting diplomatic ties, about Yemen and the 2015 nuclear accord between global powers and Iran, which Riyadh opposed for not tackling Tehran’s missile program and regional proxies.
“Saudi Arabia desperately needs to find a way out of a (Yemen) war that is both unpopular and unwinnable,” said Elisabeth Kendall, senior research fellow in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Oxford’s Pembroke College.
The kingdom has urged global powers trying to bring both the United States and Iran back into full compliance with the nuclear pact to reach a stronger agreement of longer duration, in talks in Vienna.
Madawi Al-Rasheed, visiting professor at the LSE Middle East Centre, said impressing Biden was one reason why Prince Mohammed “changed his confrontational discourse” on Iran.

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