| 24 March 2023, Friday |

Iran and Saudi Arabia: Key developments towards resumption of ties

Following a seven-year diplomatic rift, Iran and Saudi Arabia decided to resume contact on Friday, according to a joint statement from China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran.

Following are significant dates in Saudi-Iranian relations since they were cut off in 2016:

January 2, 2016: Nearly 50 people are put to death in Saudi Arabia, including prominent Shi’ite preacher Nimr al-Nimr. Shi’ite Iran’s senior leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, promises “divine vengeance” for Nimr’s murder as protesters attack the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

Jan. 3, 2016: Saudi Arabia cuts ties with Iran.

Jan. 7, 2016: Iran accuses Saudi Arabia of air strikes on its embassy in Yemen. Saudi officials dismiss the claim as propaganda.

May 29, 2016: Iran bans its pilgrims from attending the annual Muslim haj pilgrimage, blaming Saudi Arabia for “sabotage” and failing to guarantee the safety of pilgrims.

Sept. 14, 2019: Saudi Arabia blames Iran for attacks on its oil installations that knocked out half of the kingdom’s supply. Iran denies involvement; Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group claims responsibility for the attacks.

Jan. 3, 2020: Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian military commander, is killed in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad.

April 9, 2021: Iran and Saudi Arabia hold their first direct talks since the rupture, hosted by Baghdad. Between April and September 2022, four rounds of talks are held, mostly mediated by Iraq and Oman.

March 13, 2022: Iran pulls out of talks ahead of a planned fifth round without giving a reason, a day after mass executions in Saudi Arabia that activists said included 41 Shi’ite Muslims.

April 21, 2022: Iran and Saudi Arabia hold a fifth round of talks.

Oct. 19, 2022: Top adviser to Iran’s Khamenei calls for reopening of Saudi, Iranian embassies.

Dec. 9, 2022: Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Saudi Arabia, holds talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Feb. 16, 2023: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visits China to meet Xi.

  • Reuters