Will Iraq succeed in bringing Iran, Saudi closer?

By Ali Mamouri for Al Monitor. Any views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

On Jan. 14, Iraqi and Iranian media reported that Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari (pictured) offered to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia in order to overcome their disputes and restore their bilateral relations that were ruptured following the Jan. 2, 2016, attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran.

The attack came after a series of diplomatic tensions between the two countries over incidents such as the 2015 hajj stampede in Mecca that killed more than 450 pilgrims and Saudi Arabia’s execution of dissident Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr on Jan. 2, 2016.

Jaafari confirmed these reports, saying that he has been engaged in mediation efforts since last year. “I’ve indeed exchanged messages between officials from the two countries,” he said, according to what Reuters reported from Iranian state TV. Jaafari added, “Any crisis in Saudi-Iranian relations also affects Iraq as well and vice versa.”

Jaafari’s mediation attempt followed official efforts by Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) to thaw the ice between Tehran and Riyadh and open channels of dialogue. Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah said Dec. 1 that the GCC countries are trying to send a message to Iran on behalf of the council, inviting both countries to dialogue meetings, adding that Kuwait will be transmitting the message to Iran and that “contacts with Iran are ongoing to set a convenient date to deliver that message.”

On Jan. 17, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that at least a dozen countries, including Iraq and Kuwait, have offered to mediate between the Islamic republic and the kingdom, indicating that Iran hailed these efforts and wishes to be on good terms with everyone, especially the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia. Rouhani’s statement was previously echoed by Iran’s Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, both wishing to renew relations with the kingdom.

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