Iran and Saudi Arabia reach agreement restore links and reopen diplomatic missions after a break of several years which has fueled tensions in the Gulf and aggravated conflicts from Yemen to Syria.
The deal was reached on Friday during talks in Beijing between senior security officials from the two rival Middle Eastern powers.
The two major Shia and Sunni Muslim powers in the Middle East have been at odds for years and have backed opposing sides in proxy wars from Yemen to Syria.
Here’s a look at some recent events in their contradictory history:
2011 – Arab Spring
The Arab Spring saw protest movements against the status quo across the Middle East. Saudi Arabia blames Iran inciting protests in Bahrain against the royal family and sent over 1,000 troops to stop the protests. Iran has denied the accusation.
2011 – Syrian War
The rivals faced off again after the Syrian War broke out in 2011. Shia-ruled Iran backed President Bashar al-Assad and provided him with military forces and money to fight Sunni rebels. Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia supported rebel groups, but later joined a US-led coalition formed to fight ISIL (ISIS) from 2014.
2015 – War in Yemen
When Yemen’s civil war began in 2015, Saudi Arabia supported its internationally recognized government and Houthi rebel strongholds targeted.The Houthis are aligned with Iran.
2015 – Mecca Stampede
A scramble in Mecca during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in 2015 further heightened tensions. Iran has accused the Saudi government of mishandling the most important event on the Muslim calendar. About 2,000 pilgrims were killed in the crush, more than 400 Iranians.
2016 – Saudi Arabia cuts ties
Four months after the Mecca stampede, Saudi Arabia executed prominent Shiite leader Nimr al-Nimr, a critic of the Saudi government. Protesters in Tehran stormed the Saudi Embassy and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned of “divine vengeance” for Nimr’s execution. Riyadh then cut ties with Tehran.
2016 – Iran suspends participation in Hajj
That same year, Iran suspended its participation in the Hajj and Saudi Arabia launched a Persian-language television channel covering the pilgrimage.
Riyadh said the 24-hour satellite channel would cover Hajj rituals and prayers from Mecca’s Grand Mosque. Khamenei criticized Saudi Arabia over its handling of the Hajj and suggested Muslim countries consider ending Riyadh’s control over the Hajj.
2017 – Blockade of Qatar
Another regional break came in June 2017 when Saudi Arabia and its allies in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a blockade on Qatar. They said Qatar was too close to Iran and supported “terrorism”, allegations which Doha denied. These links were mended in January 2021.
2017 – Missile intercepted over Riyadh
In November 2017, Saudi Arabia intercepted a ballistic missile at Riyadh International Airport. He claimed the missile was supplied by Iran and launched from territory held by Houthi rebels in Yemen. In comments reported by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, the crown prince told then-British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson that Iran’s actions “can be seen as an act of war against the kingdom”.
2017 – Lebanese Prime Minister resigns
That same month, the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, quit unexpectedly and oddly from Riyadh, citing Iran’s “hold” on his country through Hezbollah. he later withdrew his resignation. The move plunged Lebanon into a political crisis seen as part of a Saudi effort to counter Iran’s influence in the country.
2018 – US pulls out of Iran nuclear deal
In May 2018, President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrawn the United States of the Iran nuclear deal, a move hailed by both Saudi Arabia and Israel. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman warned in a US television interview that if Tehran gets a nuclear weapon, “we will do the same as soon as possible”.
The prince also called Iran’s supreme leader the “new Hitler”.
2019 – Attacks against Saudi targets
A year later, Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for a series of attacks on targets in the kingdom, including one that struck the heart of the country’s oil industry, temporarily cutting oil production in half. gross of the kingdom. Iran has denied any involvement. Yemen’s Houthi rebel group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
2020 – Qassem Soleimani killed
When Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad, Saudi state media celebrated the attack.
2021 – Iran and Saudi Arabia hold talks
In April 2021, Iran and Saudi Arabia held their first direct talks since severing official relations. Baghdad was the host.
2022 – No more talks
Between April and September last year, four rounds of talks took place, mostly mediated by Iraq and Oman.
After Iran and Saudi Arabia held a fifth round of talks, a top adviser to Khamenei called for the reopening of Saudi and Iranian embassies.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has visited Saudi Arabia for talks with Mohammed bin Salman.
2023 – Agreement to restore links
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is traveling to China to meet Xi in February. The following month, Riyadh and Tehran announce that they have decided to re-establish ties.