The decline of American and “Zionist power” has begun, military advisor to Iran’s ruler Ali Khamenei said Sunday, following a Chinese brokered deal with Saudis.
General Yahya Rahim Safavi was echoing sentiment expressed by all forces in Iran who are considered “Principlist” or loyal to Khamenei, who for years has espoused a policy of siding with China and Russia against the United States.
China appeared to be the power that brokered a deal between Tehran and Riyadh to restore diplomatic relations after seven years of open animosity and rivalry. One Iranian commentator said Sunday that the agreement signed in Beijing was not really a bilateral deal, but a tripartite agreement between Iran, China and Saudi Arabia.
In fact, Tehran and Riyadh had been negotiating since 2021 in Baghdad, with Iraqi mediation and could have restored relations without Beijing’s mediation. Former Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafal al-Kadhimi in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat published Sunday, says that most of the talks took place in Baghdad.
At this point we do not know what brought China into the picture, except assuming that either Iran or Saudi Arabia insisted on it. If the demand came from the Saudis, it could mean one thing, showing displeasure with the Biden administration, which is left picking up the pieces.
Khamenei’s advisor Safavi in his remarks did not repeat the typical rhetoric of war and confrontation, advising that Iran and Saudi Arabia should exhibit rationality for the sake of West Asia. He said that restoration of bilateral ties was not against any regional countries. But he quickly added that it is natural for the United States to be worried and try to disrupt it.
Speculations abound in Iranian media about the potential dividends of peace with Saudi Arabia. Some see it as an Iranian victory to potentially disrupt a possible Saudi peace deal with Israel. Others speak of economic benefits for the Islamic Republic, going as far as claiming that Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia can create a powerful oil cartel with Chinese backing and put the West on the defensive.
Safavi in his remarks also mentioned a similar outlook. “Iran should regard the West’s entanglement in Ukraine and the Taiwan tensions as an opportunity and based on shared interests with Russia and China move ahead with a clear strategy, given US threats against all three countries.”
The quick face-about of Iran hardliners and Khamenei loyalists regarding Saudi Arabia is being highlighted by their rivals, the reformists, who point out that there was no need to attack the Saudi embassy in Tehran in January 2016 and create tensions for seven years.
They argue that hardliners were calling for the destruction of the Saudi monarchy and equating the country with “Zionists”, calling it a US puppet. Meanwhile, Tehran spent tens of billions of dollars to finance the war in Yemen against Riyadh and provoked the ire of Persian Gulf Arab states.
Now, facing more international isolation and a broken economy, the Khamenei camp is suddenly praising friendship with Riyadh, something they could have done all along.
Safavi insisted that the agreement with Saudi Arabia was “a political earthquake” and the end of “American hegemony in the region”. We this deal, the “post-American era starts in the Persian Gulf region.”
He went on to say that “The Chinese are determined to become the top global economy by 2030 and this agreement brokered by the Chinese is the second big blow by China against America.”