Crown Prince’s visit to Iran – a ray of hope for Ummah

Col (r) Ikram Ullah Khan

In an auspicious turn of events, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman has announced to visit Iran accepting the invitation of Iran’s acting President Mohamad Mokhber following the accidental death of Iran’s President Ibrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash a few days back. This marks the first potential visit by Saudi top leadership to Iran after more than two decades.

The invitation is a repeat of the one extended earlier by the then Iranian President Dr Ibrahim Raisi (late) in November 2023. It’s highly encouraging to see Saudi leadership responding positively and accepting the olive branch offered by the acting Iranian president. It seems both sides have realized that the policy of jingoism and warmongering has only brought ruin on both the countries and has benefited those who want to see the Muslim ummah divided.

The expected visit comes as a breath of fresh air for the entire Muslim community commonly called as Muslim Ummah.

The visit is likely to give an impetus to the resumed diplomatic relations in a positive direction between the two important Islamic countries which had been cut in 2016 after Iranian religious groups described by local media as “students”, stormed Saudi diplomatic compounds in Tehran and Mashhad following the execution of a Shi’ite cleric in Saudi capital Riyadh.

It merits a mention here that the revival of diplomatic relations between the two countries was made possible a year ago due to the relentless efforts put in by China, Pakistan and Russia. The main credit, however, goes to China for translating the distant dream into reality.

Political analysts and diplomatic experts believe that the detente has yet to bring about total peace or ease the core contentious issues like Iranian-backed Hothi attacks on Yemen and ownership issue of Arash/Dorra oil and gas fields that have long fuelled hostilities between the two key regional players. The tension continues to exist between Saudi Arabia and Iran over the ownership of Arash/Dorra oil and gas fields engendering a turf war, with both sides claiming its ownership. But despite all the dismal scenario, it’s hoped that both sides would find amicable solution to the issue and the bone of contention would be removed in a peaceful manner.

The expected visit of MBS has sent shock waves in the US and Israel who are reportedly trying tooth and nail to hold MBS back from his visit. They are using their old carrot and stick policy with more emphasis on carrot policy this time because they have the painful realization that stick policy may not work anymore. Gone are the days when arm twisting and coercive tactics would do the job.

With the resurgence of friendly relation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the bonhomie that has been existing between the US and Saudi Arabia for many decades at the expense of Muslim unity is bound to come to an end sooner or later. This is an opportune moment for both Iran and Saudi Arabia to bury the hatchet and make peace, and rid themselves of the exploitative tactics employed by the US and Israel.

There is a growing realization in both Saudi Arabia and Iran that the US and Israel, nay, the entire West is the ultimate beneficiary of the sinister fight that has been going on between the two Muslim countries unabated. Saudi leadership has finally started realizing that instead of spending billions of US dollars on the purchase of arms from the US, only to fight Iran and its proxies yielding no results, it’s better to mend fences with Iran and spend the same amount on national development and also on developing their own arms/military muscle which can only be possible if Saudi Arabia sheds hostility and makes peace with Iran, and benefit from Iran’s nuclear technology which it’s fast developing.

It’s highly intriguing to see that such a high-profile visit to Iran comes at a time of heightened regional tensions due to Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both Israel and the US are working towards a deal with Saudi Arabia as part of the Trump-era “Abraham Accords”. But Saudi Arabia has reportedly refused to strike a bargain with Israel and the US until a permanent and acceptable solution to Palestinian issue is found.

Having said all that, although, main credit of ending hostilities between Iran and Saudi Arabia goes to China, the positive role played by Pakistan in bringing both the Islamic countries together can’t be downplayed. It has remained an enduring foreign policy of Pakistan to remove the misgivings plaguing both the important countries of Muslim Ummah and bring them closer which has mercifully yielded positive results.

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