The Saudi-Iran Détente and the Israel-Hamas War

The Saudi-Iran Détente and the Israel-Hamas War
A man paints Israeli, Iranian, U.S. and Saudi Arabia national flags on a wall during an anti-government protest in Baghdad, Iraq, Nov. 17, 2019 (Photo by Ameer Al Mohammedaw for dpa via AP Images).

In April 2018, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, said in an interview with The Atlantic that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, “makes Hitler look good.” MBS, as the crown prince is widely known, also dismissed the possibility of any talks between the two regional rivals.

Just three years later, MBS has changed his tune, saying in a recent television interview that he hopes to “build a good and positive relationship with Iran.” His remarks came amid reports that the two sides were in the early stages of negotiations to deescalate tensions, which both Riyadh and Tehran subsequently confirmed.

It was the latest hopeful sign that some of the region’s most lasting and damaging conflicts like as the war in Yemen, could be brought to an end, even as intense fighting has flared up again between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants based in Gaza.

This week on Trend Lines, Hussein Ibish, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, joins WPR’s Elliot Waldman to discuss the latest developments in the Middle East. Click here to read a partial transcript of the interview.


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Trend Lines is edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie.

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