Saudi Arabia, Iran Take Steps Toward Indirect Talks to Reduce Tensions

Iraq, Pakistan seen mediating the efforts

On September 14, Yemeni drones hit a pair of Saudi oil refineries. US and Saudi officials made a huge deal of this, and also claimed it was Iran’s doing, not Yemen’s Houthi movement’s, despite not showing any evidence. The expectation was this was going to be another chance to sucker President Trump into starting a war with Iran.

Three weeks and some largely meaningless sanctions later, the Saudis appear to be resigned to the fact that they just aren’t starting that war. Their fallback plan, it seems, is to now try to get some indirect negotiations going with Iran to reduce tensions, after spending years bringing those tensions to a boiling point.

Exactly how this process got going is unclear, put Iraqi and Pakistani officials say they were brought into the matter by the Saudi Crown Prince, and both are now intending to serve as mediators for the indirect talks.

Iran is on board for the effort, but Saudi officials, despite being reported to have started the whole thing, are now saying they’re considering the idea, but want to make sure everyone thinks Iraq and Pakistan are acting unilaterally, and they never approached anyone.

An official Saudi statement also insists that since the escalation was all the fault of Iran, they need to begin de-escalation, and that it’s not up to the Saudis to do that. This is in keeping with the Saudis’ stance of trying to provoke every action in the Middle East, but also keep up a narrative where they didn’t actually do anything, and just react to everything that happens.

And while the Saudis usually turn to the US to drive whatever policy they want, it is noteworthy that the US seems uninvolved in this peace process. It seems even the Saudis are well aware that the US isn’t a nation to try to use to make peace.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of