Iran reopens its embassy in Saudi Arabia as the Gulf rivals restore ties

Iran has reopened its embassy in Saudi Arabia after seven years, marking progress in restoring ties and lowering tensions between the two Gulf neighbors.

Driving the news: The reopening of the embassy comes after the two countries agreed in March to restore ties in a deal brokered by China.
* Direct flights, increased trade, and restored business ties are among the benefits of restoring diplomatic relations.
* Iranian pilgrims will be able to more easily apply for Saudi visas for hajj and umrah pilgrimages to Mecca.
* Iran’s consulate is also set to reopen in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Wider implications: This development also marks a broader realignment in the region, such as Saudi Arabia restoring ties with Syria and attempting to end its war in Yemen against Iranian-backed Houthis.
* The rapprochement has prompted discussions between Egypt and Iran to boost their diplomatic ties, mediated by Oman.

Important context: Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran were severed in 2016 after the execution of a popular Saudi Shia cleric and subsequent protests in Tehran.
* Saudi Arabia continues to carry out mass executions, which have received coverage in Iranian media and been criticized by rights groups.

View original article on NPR

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