top of page

Why Is US "Blindsided" by Iran-Saudi Detente?

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

CIA Director William Burns has voiced his displeasure about Saudi Arabia’s unexpected normalisation agreement with Iran, which was mediated by China.

During a visit to Riyadh, Burns reportedly warned Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince, that the US "had felt blindsided" by Riyadh's rapprochement with Iran and Syria, two countries that are subject to punishing American economic sanctions.

The highest-level meeting between Saudi Arabia and Iran since their diplomatic relations were broken in 2016 took place on April 6, when their foreign ministers met in Beijing. They agreed to work towards alternative types of cooperation and to reopen their embassies and start direct flights.

There are a number of reasons why Saudi Arabia wants to cut ties with the US and why the US was unable to isolate Iran. Iran's success in forging close ties with other nations is one of the key reasons why the US was unable to isolate it.

Other nations, including Russia and China, have been eager to deal with Iran despite the economic sanctions, while the US has been trying to isolate Iran. This has made it possible for Iran to continue exporting its oil and other products while also attracting foreign investment. Moreover, Iran has gained more clout in the Middle East through forging relationships with other nations, including Syria and Lebanon.

The sanctions' unexpected effects are just another factor in the US's failure to isolate Iran. The sanctions have damaged the economies of other nations in the region as well as Iran, even though their primary goal was to harm Iran's economy. For instance, the sanctions have made it challenging for the numerous nations in the region that depend on Iranian oil to buy it. As a result, they are searching for alternative energy supplies, which is putting pressure on the world oil market.

China's involvement in Saudi Arabia's decision to improve relations with Iran is motivated by a number of factors as well. Saudi Arabia's goal to diversify its trading partners and alternatives is one of the key drivers. Riyadh is seeking for methods to diversify its economy because it is heavily dependent on oil exports. It can open up new markets and investment opportunities by forging closer ties with Tehran and Beijing.

Saudi Arabia's determination to separate itself from the US is another factor influencing its choice to end hostilities with Iran and Syria. Riyadh has long been a loyal ally of the US, but there are rising worries about US foreign policy in the nation. It is particularly concerned about the US's growing emphasis on renewable energy sources and its waning reliance on oil. This might result in less demand for Saudi Arabian oil, which would be detrimental to its economy.

It also helps if Saudi Arabia trades instead of using US dollars in other currencies, such the Chinese yuan. By doing this, the country would be able to diversify its financial ties and lessen its reliance on the US financial system. The mending of relations between Riyadh and Tehran may also aid China's efforts to forge closer economic ties with Saudi Arabia.


bottom of page