In early March, Iran and Saudi Arabia announced that they had reached a deal to reestablish diplomatic ties and reopen their respective embassies. To the surprise of many observers, their agreement was mediated by China, which has in recent years increased its political engagement with governments in the Middle East.
But despite not being physically present at the signing ceremony in Beijing, several current and former Iraqi officials celebrated the completion of a process that Baghdad played an important role in pushing across the finish line. Reacting to the news of the agreement, Ali Mamouri, an adviser to former Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, wrote that although the agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran was reached and signed in Beijing, “the negotiations between the two countries had been initiated by Iraq.”
In an attempt to ease tensions between Tehran and Riyadh, Iraq—which shares a border with both countries—had sought to mediate between the two sides beginning in 2019, when Kadhimi served as Iraq’s intelligence chief. After he became prime minister the following year, Iraq began hosting face-to-face meetings between Saudi Arabian and Iranian officials in Baghdad, culminating in the multilateral Baghdad Summit in 2021.