On Tuesday, Iran officially reopened its embassy in Saudi Arabia 7 years after the rival countries severed diplomatic ties over the proxy war in Syria. The reopening of the Iranian embassy comes after China brokered a rapprochement between the two rivals earlier this year.
According to the Saudi news network Al Arabiya, footage showed the Iranian flag being raised above the embassy in Riyadh while the Iranian national anthem was played.
While Saudi Arabia has yet to reopen its embassy in Tehran, the effects of the rapprochement are expected to be noticed first in ease o travel restrictions, more relaxed access to visas, and the resumption of direct flights to Iran.
Meanwhile, in Washington, CIA Director William Burns told Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a March meeting that the U.S. "has felt blindsided" by the Saudi's rapprochement with Iran and, more recently, with Syria. Both Iran and Syria remain under crushing U.S. economic sanctions.
The rivalry between Riyadh and Tehran not only worsened during the decade-long proxy war in Syria but also goes back for centuries to what is considered the correct interpretation of Islam with Iran being Shia and Saudi Arabia being Sunni. The conflicts between the two have also overflowed into places like Yemen where another grinding proxy war has put Shia rebels against a Saudi-supported government.
Despite U.S. troops still occupying a large swath of northeast Syria, the re-establishment of diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia is expected to help stabilize the situation in Syria. Washington, however, remains unhappy that the Arab League has accepted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad back into the fold. Furthermore, China's recent role as a global mediator has also caused concern for the U.S. and its Western allies.
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