Iran reported on Friday August 5 the arrest of one of its nationals during the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, its regional rival, and called for its release.
The arrest of this Iranian, whose identity has not been communicated, was revealed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran which reported a telephone conversation between the head of Iranian diplomacy, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and his counterpart Iraqi, Fouad Hussein.
Iraq’s mediation role
Iraq plays the role of mediator between Iran and Saudi Arabia, two rival regional powers whose diplomatic relations have been broken since 2016.During the phone call, the Iranian minister inquired about the fate of the Iranian citizen arrested during the great pilgrimage in July in Saudi Arabia and asked his interlocutor to transmit a message demanding his release“, According to a statement from Foreign Affairs in Tehran. The ministry did not specify the identity of the detained Iranian or the reasons for his arrest. No reaction could be obtained immediately from the Saudi authorities in this case. Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran severed ties in 2016 after protesters in Iran attacked Saudi diplomatic missions following Riyadh’s execution of a known Shia cleric.
The two rival powers, who accuse each other of destabilizing the Middle East, however expressed their willingness to overcome their differences and began negotiations made public for the first time in April 2021. Iraq hosted five rounds of talks between representatives of Tehran and Riyadh, the last dating back to April 2022. On July 23, Fouad Hussein announced an upcoming round of discussions in Baghdad between the heads of diplomacy, the first at this level. And preparations are underway to hold it on a date yet to be determined.