Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Everything the Supreme Leader Wants

The resumption of Saudi-Iranian relations shows that everything in Iran falls under the absolute authority of the supreme leader, who’s so far the only decision-maker there, even if he wanted to take an imminent decision to end the crisis of the nuclear deal that is almost dead now.

“Last September, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lost patience with the slow pace of bilateral talks (with Saudi Arabia) and summoned his team to discuss ways to accelerate the process, which led to China's involvement,” two Iranian officials have told Reuters.

Him losing patience is the result of isolation and the difficulties that the Iranian regime is facing locally and with the outside world. That’s why the Saudi-Iranian agreement was struck to resume relations through intense negotiations in Beijing and in only five days, while the nuclear deal is deadlocked for almost three years.

Evidence on the supreme leader losing patience and his insistence to resume relations with Riyadh lies in the presence of a different Iranian delegation in China. “Those representing Tehran in Beijing were the representatives of the real authorities and not those with decorated suits.” Among those present was a representative of the Revolutionary Guards.

During the five rounds of negotiations with Saudi Arabia, Iran had wished for Saudis to meet with a representative from the Guards but that never happened because the talks were taking place between two countries and not between a state and agencies.

When the supreme leader lost patience and wanted to speed up the resumption of relations and give the needed assistance, Iran reacted how it should have. Even Iran’s followers in the region were surprised by the resumption of ties.

Sources say that Hezbollah was among those surprised by the move.

Bashar Assad even said in an interview carried out with him in Russia that news on the resumption of the Saudi-Iranian ties was a “great surprise,” at a time when Saudi Arabia was behaving normally and informing allies about the agreement on “appropriate occasions.”

So the question is: Why is Iran procrastinating in the nuclear deal or in responding with a better initiative at a time when the agreement with Saudi Arabia was swift? Does Iran intend to have nuclear weapons? Which means Tehran has gone on an adventure with uncalculated consequences on itself and the region.

The Saudi-Iranian negotiations did not deal with the Iranian nuclear file, and this is understandable because Riyadh’s stance from the issue is clear. It rejects the proliferation of weapons in the entire region, and this position remains unchanged even after resuming relations with Iran.

Riyadh’s position is clear because this cause should be dealt with by Western powers and it's necessary for the region’s countries, and mainly Saudi Arabia, to be represented in any step to revive the nuclear agreement with Iran if it was possible to do so. There is information that there are attempts to revive the deal.

To summarize, the Saudi-Iranian agreement in Beijing says that the supreme leader is the sole decision-maker and he can resolve the problems of the nuclear deal quickly, mainly because no one believes in the fatwa of banning the possession of a nuclear bomb as Iran keeps saying.

So the question is: Will the supreme leader surprise everyone and allow the speeding up of negotiations on the nuclear agreement as it happened with the deal with Saudi Arabia? Or will the looming danger continue?