Détente between Iran and Saudi Arabia raises hopes for steps towards peace in Yemen

© Mohammed Huwais, AFP

A renewal in diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia has raised hopes of an end to fighting in Yemen, where the two regional powers have been locked in a proxy war for eight years.

The deal renewing diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran had barely been signed on March 10 in Beijing when all eyes turned to Yemen, where the two rival powers have been in indirect confrontation since 2015.

The surprise agreement between the two Middle Eastern powers may have its most concrete impact in Yemen, which has been ravaged by a war between its government, supported by a Saudi-led military coalition, and Houthi rebels supported by Iran.

Both sides were quick to welcome news of the agreement between the Islamic Republic and the Wahhabi monarchy, signalling the potential significance of the deal.

The Yemeni government said it hoped that the renewed diplomatic ties between the two countries would allow for “the start of a new era in regional relationships, and put an end to Iran’s interference in Yemeni affairs”.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Abdel Salam, spokesman for the Shiite rebels who seized Yemen’s capital Sanaa in the beginning of 2015, said that “the region has long needed a return to normal relations”.

A positive outcome for Yemen?

Chief among these is security in Saudi Arabia.

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