Iranian Diplomats Arrive in Saudi Arabia for Organization of Islamic Cooperation Posts – The Organization for World Peace

Three Iranian diplomats have arrived in Saudi Arabia for the first time in six years to start working with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. This marks the opening of a dialogue between long-time rivals to restore relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia since the two countries severed diplomatic relations in 2016.

“Three Iranian diplomats have arrived in Jeddah to begin their work at the OIC,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said. He went on to say, “We hope to reach an outcome in future talks…which compels Saudi officials to pay attention to their remarks and actions.” The OIC is an international organization made up of 49 Muslim countries. Its mission is to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world and to promote international peace and harmony.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have been fighting for influence in the Middle East along religious and political lines since 1960. The two nations have supported opposing forces in regional conflicts such as the 2011 Arab Spring and the war by proxy in Yemen. Another notable conflict occurred in 2016 when Iranian protesters attacked the Saudi Embassy in Tehran following the execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, a revered and outspoken leader of the minority Shia group in Saudi Arabia.

The competing political and ideological visions of each nation’s majority are interconnected with the larger national rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Each country has an opposing Islamic sect as the majority group, with each group following the Sunni and Shia faith respectively. The majority of Saudis follow an ultra-conservative sect of the Sunni faith and Iranians mainly follow the Shia faith. The main cleavage between the two sects is based on their disagreement on the true successor of the Prophet Muhammad.

Iranian and Saudi support for regional conflicts in the Middle East has had devastating effects on civilians in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. According to the UN refugee agency, tens of thousands of people have been killed in Yemen as a result of regional conflicts and more than 22 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian assistance. Six million Syrians have been displaced from their homes and half a million have been killed in the war. Iran and Saudi Arabia must negotiate and end their military support for regional conflicts. Although further progress is needed to restore Iranian-Saudi relations, these negotiations mark a good starting point for the two countries to restore diplomatic relations and maintain a greater degree of peace in the Middle East.

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