General Studies Paper 2

Context: Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China announced that an agreement has been reached between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

What are the important points about the agreement?

  • It covers are sumption of diplomatic relations between them and a re-opening of their embassies and missions within a period not exceeding two months.
  • The agreement affirmed their respect for the sovereignty of states, and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.

What are the implications of increasing closeness between Saudi Arabia and Iran?

  • China brought Saudi Arabia together with Iran when Israel was thinking that the United States would bring it together with Saudi Arabia.
  • There is a substantial change in the strategic situation in the Middle East. The Saudis are now balancing their security by playing off the U.S. against China.’
  • USA’s influence and credibility in the region has diminished. A new type of international regional alignment is taking place. It has empowered and has given both Russia and China newfound influence and status.

What are the background events that led to thaw in ties between Saudi and Iran?

  • Bilateral efforts have been underway since early 2016 to ease tensions that had developed specifically between Tehran, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. The Emir of Kuwait and the Sultan of Oman initiated steps that were responded to by Iran.
  • Talks were also held in Baghdad and during Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to China in February.
  • All were worried about the attacks on shipping and energy facilities in Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates and the longer term implications of the regional conflicts that were underway.
  • During China’s President Xi Jinping visit to Saudi Arabia in December 2022, he attended the first China-Arab States Summit and the China-GCC Summit.

What were the important developments during the Chinese President’s visit to Saudi Arabia?

  • Jinping’s speech laid stress on five priority areas: energy cooperation; finance and investment cooperation, innovation, science and technology, aerospace cooperation and Chinese language and cultural cooperation.
  • Following are some of the initiatives launched Global Security Initiative
  • A comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement 
  • The statement stressed the importance of deepening joint cooperation with regard to the BRI and on attracting Chinese expertise in Saudi megaprojects.
  • The two sides signed ‘a harmonising plan’ between the KSA’s Vision 2030 and the BRI.

What is the importance of west Asia for India and Its policy towards this region?

  • Apart from historical linkages, the region is in India’s proximate neighbourhood and within its security parameters. It is the principal source of hydrocarbon imports, and investments.
  • It is also an important destination for manpower exports apart from being a major trading partner including projects.
  • India’s reaction to this development has been The official policy has focused on bilateral relations and avoidance of involvement in bilateral and regional disputes.
  • India has consciously refrained from participation in alternate security architectures.  The region should not be viewed in competition with China.India should not consider itself a surrogate for western powers in power games.
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