Riyadh-Tehran thaw

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THE Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has extended an olive branch to Iran with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman declaring Riyadh wanted to have ‘good’ relations with Tehran.

In a television interview, he declared, “Iran is a neighbouring country and all we aspire for is a good and special relationship with Iran” adding KSA wanted Iran to grow… and to push the region and the world towards prosperity.

The cold war between two important members of the Muslim world is a constant source of concern for all those who care about welfare of the Muslim world, as tension between them is one of the biggest hurdles in the way of strengthening unity of the Muslim world and resolution of its woes.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which is the second largest entity after the United Nations with a membership of 57 states and spreads over four continents, was also established to safeguard and protect interests of the Muslim world but it has practically been rendered ineffective due to rivalries and infighting.

It is in this backdrop that remarks of the Saudi Crown Prince, reflecting a thaw in Riyadh-Tehran relations, have widely been hailed by Muslims around the world.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has also been making efforts aimed at reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, was among those who promptly welcomed the development. On his twitter handle, he posted “We welcome the KSA initiative for peace with Iran.

ran is our neighbour and KSA our closest friend. This peace initiative will strengthen the Muslim Ummah”.

There are reasons to believe that comments of the Saudi leader are not mere PR exercise or hollow slogan but practical steps have also been taken for ice melting.

Media reports suggest un-announced talks between the two countries in Iraqi capital Baghdad, which were facilitated by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi that have led to reduction in tension.

There are, of course, differences of perception between the two countries mainly on regional issues and politics but these are manageable provided their leadership demonstrates vision and flexibility and remains willing for direct and indirect engagement.

Normalisation of relations would not only benefit people of the two countries but also has a salutary impact on prospects of unity and solidarity of the Muslim world, which needs to work together to fight challenges that have marginalised the Muslims in present-day world.