What to make of the Saudi-Iranian rapprochement?

Representatives from arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran announced at a meeting in China their intention of resuming diplomatic ties and normalising their relations, which have been fraught for decades. Europe's press comments on the fact that it was Beijing that brokered this breakthrough, which has taken the West completely by surprise.

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Večernji list (HR) /

Diplomatic breakthrough

For Večernji list China's role has strengthened:

“There can be no doubt that the restoration of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, two regional powers but also enemies, is a diplomatic victory for Beijing. ... This success for China in mediating between Saudi Arabia and Iran is seen as Beijing's diplomatic breakthrough in the Middle East and the most tangible evidence to date that Beijing is willing to use its global influence to help resolve foreign conflicts.”

ABC (ES) /

Bad news for the West

ABC sees the deal as not very reassuring:

“Thanks to the mediation of China, which has recently strengthened its geostrategic role, Iran and Saudi Arabia have resumed diplomatic relations, which had been suspended since 2016. ... This would be the end of the so-called 'new Cold War in the Middle East', which at first glance would be a relief. ... However, the new 'status quo' of these relations must be reconciled with Saudi Arabia's traditional closeness to the US, whose relations with Iran and China are currently in a bad state. That is why Washington is wary of this rapprochement. ... When the US loses a partner in the Middle East, it's bad news for the West.”

Karar (TR) /

Chance of more stability for the region

The US and allies like Israel should take a more optimistic view of the rapprochement, Karar urges:

“The US establishment does not see this development, which could bring peace and tranquility to the region, facilitate the resolution of the Yemeni conflict, ensure an uninterrupted flow of oil and stabilise the energy markets to some extent, in a positive light. ... But the US and its allies could change their perspective and see the rapprochement between the two countries as an opportunity. This could be a turning point that paves the way for Iran to return to the 2015 negotiations, renounce nuclear weapons and respect its people and their legitimate demands.”

Il Manifesto (IT) /

Targeting oil and gas reserves

Il Manifesto refers to economic policy aspects:

“The Chinese have achieved this result with the powerful levers of their economic diplomacy. China is the largest buyer of Iranian oil under Western embargo and observes with great interest the fact that Tehran possesses the second largest gas reserves in the world: the South Pars offshore oil fields, which are partly shared with Qatar, could cover Europe's entire annual consumption. But the Western path for the Islamic republic appears to be blocked in view of the anti-theocratic uprising of the 'Women, Life, Freedom' movement, so the Chinese side presents itself.”

Adevărul (RO) /

A monopoly on the petrol market

Analyst Cristian Unteanu comments in Adevărul on the implications for the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec):

“This agreement signals a shift in the centre of power and influence within Opec. There we will soon, perhaps immediately, see how the paradigm of offers and negotiations on oil and gas production and prices will change should there indeed be a functioning cooperation and common interests between the two energy giants. For if Iran and Saudi Arabia were to work together, they could control almost all assets at the Opec level and establish an almost absolute monopoly.”