As Washington denizens look toward the Middle East and see China brokering diplomatic deals between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the surprising general response has been: One less thing for us to worry about.
Top diplomats for Saudi Arabia and Iran were in Beijing on Thursday to finalize a deal that would reopen embassies, resume direct flights between their two nations and restart security and trade agreements. It’s the latest sign that Beijing is not content with being solely a regional behemoth, but rather a major global power.
But the Biden administration, which has openly worried about China’s growing clout in the Middle East, has met this development with a shrug. And while some in Washington, D.C. fear that China is filling a vacuum left by the United States, most see only upside to Beijing’s regional foray.
“Not everything between the U.S. and China has to be a zero-sum game,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who leads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Middle East panel. Plus, he said, better relations between Riyadh and Tehran means that there will be less conflict in the region, which would lower the chance of the United States getting dragged into a fighting in the Middle East. “I don’t know why we would perceive there to be a downside to de-escalation between Saudi Arabia and Iran.” [Continue reading…]