Rising Diplomatic Endeavors Amidst Conflict

The ongoing conflict triggers Saudi Arabia’s unprecedented engagement with Iran, exemplified by a historic phone call between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. Riyadh’s aim is to curtail the potential escalation of violence across the region.

US-Backed Talks Delayed Amid Shifting Priorities

Informants cited by Reuters reveal a delay in the US-backed talks on normalization with Israel, a crucial step for Saudi Arabia to attain a coveted US defense pact. This delay has emerged in light of new considerations arising from the recent conflict.

A Pivotal Moment in Middle East Diplomacy

Prior to the outbreak of hostilities, both Saudi and Israeli leaders had been signaling progress toward a transformative agreement that could reshape the Middle East, exemplifying significant developments in the region.

Saudi Arabia’s Stance on US Defense Pact and Palestinian Concessions

Despite the conflict, Saudi Arabia had hitherto demonstrated a commitment to pursuing a US defense pact, even in the absence of significant Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. However, this approach has raised concerns, as it may risk incurring the anger of Arab nations, with news outlets documenting Palestinian casualties in Israeli retaliatory airstrikes.

The October 7 Hamas Attack and Its Consequences

A devastating attack by Iran-backed Hamas on October 7 triggered significant consequences, leading to substantial loss of life and damage in the region. The attack has disrupted ongoing efforts to reshape Middle Eastern dynamics.

Diplomatic Realignment in the Middle East

Amidst the crisis, Saudi Arabia’s reconsideration of its diplomatic stance underscores the challenges faced by Washington in its efforts to integrate Israel further into the Middle East, where the Palestinian cause remains a prominent concern.

Implications of “Normalization” in the Arab World

The concept of “normalization” in the Arab world, a topic considered taboo, has gained even greater significance in light of the recent conflict, complicating diplomatic efforts in the region.

US Determination and Shifted Priorities

The US administration seeks to build on the Abraham Accords, promoting normalization between Gulf states, including the United Arab Emirates, and Israel. While the normalization effort is not on hold, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan emphasizes that the focus has temporarily shifted to other pressing challenges.

Diplomatic Pressures and Responses

Pressure from Washington prompts a reaction from Riyadh, with US officials urging Saudi Arabia to condemn the Hamas attack. However, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan pushes back, illustrating evolving dynamics in US-Saudi relations.

Saudi-Iran Diplomacy in Response to Regional Crisis

The ongoing regional conflict has driven Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to engage in their first-ever conversation, following a Chinese-brokered initiative that led to the re-establishment of diplomatic ties between the two nations in April.

Regional Crisis Containment Efforts

A Saudi statement underscores the kingdom’s commitment to engage with international and regional parties to halt the ongoing escalation and contain the crisis. The call between the two leaders aims to support Palestine and prevent further war in the region.

Diplomatic Channels and Leadership Approval

The call between Saudi Arabia and Iran, lasting 45 minutes, receives the approval of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, enhancing its significance and potential impact.

Saudi Arabia’s Unwavering Stance

Saudi Arabia emphasizes its unwavering stance in opposing civilian targeting and the loss of innocent lives, reaffirming its commitment to the Palestinian cause in the region.

Broader Regional Initiatives

Saudi Arabia’s broader initiatives to alleviate regional tensions, including efforts to end the conflict in Yemen, where Riyadh has led a military coalition against the Iran-aligned Houthis.

US-Saudi Collaboration in Crisis Management

The US maintains constant contact with Saudi leaders to address the ongoing crisis, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken conducting multiple calls with his Saudi counterpart.

De-Escalation and Regional Involvement

US efforts extend to urging partners with connections to Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran to contribute to de-escalation, hostage release, and the prevention of further regional entanglement.

Divergent Visions: Saudi Arabia and Iran

A comparison of the differing regional visions held by Saudi Arabia and Iran, exemplified by the recent events, offering insights into the evolving dynamics of the Middle East.