Iranian, Saudi FMs Meet as ISIS War Looms Large

Could Mutual Enemy Lead to Rapprochement?

As the respective self-proclaimed leaders of the Shi’ite and Sunni communities, Iran and Saudi Arabia have been at odds for decades, with significant tensions floating around their respective efforts to expand their regional spheres of influence.

That tension could be thawing a bit, as the Saudi and Iranian FMs met today over the weekend in New York, with discussions centering around their mutual enemy ISIS.

Iran has been fighting ISIS in Iraq since June, and has been backing Hezbollah and Syria in fighting them in Syria for quite some time. The Saudis have joined the US anti-ISIS coalition.

“Both my Saudi counterpart and I believe that this meeting will be the first page of a new chapter in our two countries’ relations,” said Iranian FM Javad Zarif. The two are unlikely to get too cozy too quickly, but the chances seem strong that they’ll at least stop openly undermining one another as the war picks up.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.