Saudi-Iran Agreement : A Big Development, Threats & Opportunities For Pakistan

For decades Iran and Saudi Arabia have had acombative history of relationship. Now with the endeavors of China as well as after self-realization and decades’ long confrontation and having backed opposite sides in proxy wars from Yemen to Syria, the two leading Shia and Sunni Muslim powers in the Middle East finally agreed to restore ties and reopen diplomatic missions. They have realized that unfortunate rivalryjust unproductively fuelled tensions in the Gulf and deepened conflicts from Yemen to Syria.The agreement was reached on 17 March 2023 during talks in Beijing between top security officials from Saudi Arab and Iran.
Brief Combative History.

In 2011, the Arab faced with protest movements against the status quo across the Middle East. Saudi Arabia accused Iran of inciting protests in Bahrain against the royal family and sent more than 1,000 soldiers to stop the demonstrations. Iran denied the accusation.The rivals again came in front after the Syrian war erupted in 2011. Shia-ruled Iran backed President Bashar al-Assad and provided him with military forces and money to battle Sunni rebels. Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia backed the rebel groups to crush them.When the civil war in Yemen began in 2015, Saudi Arabia supported its aligned government and targeted Iran backed Houthi rebels.

The stampede during annual Hajj pilgrimage in 2015 further inflamed tensions, when Iran accused the Saudi government of mismanaging the most important event. About 2,000 pilgrims were killed in the crush and more than 400 of them were Iranians.Four months after the stampede in Makkah, Saudi Arabia executed prominent Shia leader Nimr al-Nimr, a critic of the Saudi government. Protesters in Tehran stormed the Saudi embassy, and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned of “divine vengeance” for Nimr’s execution. Riyadh disconnected any more relation with Tehran.Iran alsosuspended its ties as well as participation in the Hajj.

Khamenei slammed Saudi Arabia over how it runs the Hajj and urged the Muslim countries to think about Riyadh’s control over the pilgrimage.Another embarrassment took place in June 2017 when Saudi Arabia and its allies in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a blockade on Qatar. They accused Qatar to support terrorism in UAE that Doha denied. In November 2017, Saudi Arabia intercepted a ballistic missile over Riyadh International Airport and accused that the missile was supplied by Iran and it was fired from Houthi rebels in Yemen. When the Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad, Saudi media celebrated the attack.

Paradigm Shift Of China FromGeo-economics To Geopolitical

On April 2021, Baghdad hosted first direct talk between Saudi Arab and Iran since they cut off official ties. After Iran and Saudi Arabia held a fifth round of talks, a top adviser to Khamenei called for Saudi and Iranian embassies to be reopened. It’s a paradigm shift that China has developed its position from geo-economics to geo politics, when China became arbiter between Iran and Saudi Arab to restore their diplomatic ties. Globally it’s a fresh gust of newly developed relationship of Saudi Arab and Iran with the mediation of China. Therefore China who was already a regional power of influence in Far East Asia, South Asia and South East Asia but now it has become power of influence in Middle East and other Arab countries by mediation between Iran and Saudi Arab. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Saudi Arabia for talks with Mohammed Bin Salman and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visited China to meet Xi in February. The following month, Riyadh and Tehran announced to re-establish their ties.

This is the long struggleof China to get control of geographical entities with global dimension, and the use of such geographical entities for getting political advantage not only over the regions but globally as well. China has broken the power nexus of America in the region by getting status of emerging super power of the world. The age of globalization is characterized by factors that include revolutionary technological advances, specialization in sciences, faster travel and shrinking distances, and interconnectedness and interdependency. In this new fresh air, not only do the nations interact with each other more, but the frequency of nations interacting has increased tremendously turning politics into geo-economics and geopolitical.

Opportunities and Threats for Pakistan

We must not ignore that with Chinese affiliation, Pakistan may confront with serious threats as an outcome of restoration of Saudi Arab Iran diplomatic ties. We should not forget that after the cold war, when the UN and its allied organizations became more powerful, global trade and commerce was bounded in a unified financial system. The unified platform, controlled by the banking system and international financial network, opened new avenues of development to the trading nations. They also imposed certain set of regulations which were usually biased in favor of dominant powers. But at the same time the trading nations also learnt how to play with the system. They learnt how to get advantages of geo-economics and how the changes in trade policy could affect their economy as well as economies of their adversaries.So, the US being the sole superpower, used geo-economic and geo political strategies onsubjugate states that benefitted it by employing economic sanctions upon its adversaries by getting controlled over the global financial system.

Right from its inception in 1947, Pakistan has been an active but deprived member of American block as the history witnesses that America has always used Pakistan whether it is Afghan Wars or any other eventuality occurred in global spectrum. But the major advantage, which Pakistan has been gettingas an active member of American block and that, is getting financial loans from its allied agencies like IMF, World Bank. United Nation’s Agencies and other international donor organizations. Now since China has appearedas an emerging power of influence, where new power blocks comprising China, Russia, Saudi Arab, Iran, Turkey Afghanistan included with the regional countries of Middle East have emerged andnow there are two rivalry power groups China and America.Pakistan therefore without getting America and its allied NATO annoyed must have to carefully devise itsstrategic decisions in the perspective of completing the CPEC program and getting its entire economic advantages leading to economic prosperity of the country.Since Pakistan may confront with serious threats in the upcoming decades in affiliations with Chinese block; therefore it is the high time we must have to conduct the SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity and threat) analysis of the emerging global ties as well as of the paradigm shift of China and then to chalk out the holistic strategy to convert our threats into potential opportunities for economic development of Pakistan and to uplift the general wellbeing and standard of living of people of Pakistan.