DON'T MISS : Talking Africa Podcast – Zambia's Hakainde Hichilema: 'We've never seen such levels of corruption'

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince MBS launches diplomatic talks with Iran, Syria & Turkey

By Amélie Zaccour
Posted on Thursday, 20 May 2021 08:23

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Riyadh International Airport, Saudi Arabia on 31 March 2021. Bandar Aljaloud/AP/SIPA

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) is making efforts to restore diplomatic relations with several of his neighbours. In the space of a month, Saudi Arabia has begun talks with Iran, Syria and Turkey, three countries with which it has had historically poor relations.

After years of tension and proxy conflicts, Saudi Arabia and Iran are showing the first signs of détente. A Saudi delegation led by intelligence chief Khalid bin Ali al-Humaidan met with Iranian officials in Baghdad on 9 April, even though the two countries severed diplomatic relations in 2016.

Al-Humaidan also visited Damascus, where he met with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and intelligence chief Ali Mamlouk on 4 May. This was the first time they had met since 2012, when relations between the two countries had ended and the Syrian civil war had begun.

Finally, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu met with his Saudi counterpart, prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, on 10 and 11 May in Riyadh, in an effort to ease tensions between their respective countries.

Erdogan wants to show that there is only one Islam, one that does not work in the West,” says Quentin de Pimodan, an analyst at the Research Institute for European and American Studies.

Relations between the two countries have been at an all-time low ever since Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018.