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Analysts: China’s Role as Guarantor Will Test Commitment to Saudi-Iran Agreement

Analysts: China’s Role as Guarantor Will Test Commitment to Saudi-Iran Agreement

Saturday, 11 March, 2023 - 07:30
Musaad bin Mohammed Al Aiban, Minister of State and national security adviser of Saudi Arabia, Wang Yi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission, Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, sign the agreement in Beijing on Friday. (SPA)

Analysts said the China-sponsored agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran to restore relations must lead to stability, cooperation and peace in the region.

The agreement, however, demands a different type of Iranian commitment, they told Asharq Al-Awsat.

China’s role of guarantor will be fundamental in determining how serious Iran will commit to its pledges, they stressed.

Any wavering by Tehran in meeting its pledges will directly impact its ties with Beijing, they explained.

Yemen will be the first arena where the agreement will be really tested, they went on to say.

If the situation there improves in the next two months, then improvements will be witnessed in other more complex regional files.

Saudi writer Jasser al-Jasser said meddling was at the core of the problems between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The problems were never on the bilateral level, he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“I believe that the negotiations will seek out clear stances and specific commitments from Iran over various files,” he added.

Friday’s most significant factor was the emergence of China as the guarantor of the agreement, he noted. “Iran is not reliable when it comes to meeting pledges, so Saudi Arabia appreciates China’s position given the strong relations they enjoy.”

China’s presence as a guarantor will test just how committed Iran is, al-Jasser remarked.

He predicted that the agreement will be soon put to the test in Yemen. This will be the fundamental beginning and determine how serious Iran is about its pledges.

If no progress is made in Yemen, then the agreement will be as good as over and it would be as if the ties were never restored, he stated.

On how come the agreement was struck this week and not years ago, he explained that Saudi Arabia’s stances had remained the same in recent years.

What changed was Iran’s commitment and the emergence of China as a guarantor, he noted.

"Worst case scenario, would be for Iran to renege on its commitments and the situation will return to the way it was. We have offered all options and opportunities to Iran and even foreign parties became involved,” said al-Jasser.

If Iran fails to meet its pledges, then its regime will be as good as over because its ties with China, and even Russia, will be impacted by its failure to commit, which would be interpreted as undermining of international commitments and relations, he said.

Moreover, he stated that the agreement was an “excellent” Saudi step that encourages cooperation, peace and stability with all parties.

It is an opportunity to Iran to prove just how serious - or not - it is, he remarked.

Saudi political analyst Dr. Khaled Batarafi told Asharq Al-Awsat that Saudi security was the first issue that was brought to the table at the talks with Iran.

He added that Iran’s destabilizing policies in the region may have also been addressed given that the security of the Gulf and Arab countries is closely tied to that of the Kingdom.

China’s presence as a guarantor demonstrates its strong relations with Riyadh and Tehran and its strategic interests in the region, he went on to say.

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