Wang Yi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission, Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, and Minister of State and national security adviser of Saudi Arabia Musaad bin Mohammed Al Aiban pose for pictures during a meeting in Beijing, China March 10, 2023 (Reuters)

Saudi-Iranian Normalization: A New Era for China in the Middle East?

March 14, 2023
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Zoom Webinar

Iran and Saudi Arabia have announced that they plan to normalize relations after seven years’ estrangement. Of particular note: China brokered the deal.

The announcement came shortly after Saudi Arabia established the concessions it would require from the U.S. in order to normalize with Israel.

What are the implications of both of these developments? Has China supplanted the U.S. role as regional mediator? Is this a threat to the U.S.? Would a greater role for China in the region, given its ties to both Iran and Saudi Arabia, help foster cooperation and peace, after decades of U.S. dominance have primarily yielded arms sales and war?


Annelle Sheline
Annelle Sheline, PhD, is the Research Fellow in the Middle East program at the Quincy Institute and an expert on religious and political authority in the Middle East and North Africa. Sheline is completing a book manuscript on the strategic use of religious authority in the Arab monarchies since 9/11, focusing on the cases of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, and Oman. Her non-academic writing has appeared in The Nation, Politico, and Foreign Policy. She earned her PhD in political science from George Washington University and is a non-resident fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.
Kristian Coates Ulrichsen
Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, Ph.D., is a fellow for the Middle East at the Baker Institute. His research examines the changing position of Persian Gulf states in the global order, as well as the emergence of longer-term, nonmilitary challenges to regional security.Coates Ulrichsen has published extensively on the Gulf. His most recent book is “Qatar and the Gulf Crisis” (Oxford University Press, 2020). He holds a doctorate in history from the University of Cambridge.
Michael Swaine
Michael D. Swaine, a Senior Research Fellow at QI’s East Asia program, is one of the most prominent American scholars of Chinese security studies. He comes to QI from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he worked for nearly twenty years as a senior fellow specializing in Chinese defense and foreign policy, U.S.-China relations, and East Asian international relations. Swaine served as a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation. Swaine has authored and edited more than a dozen books and monographs, including Remaining Aligned on the Challenges Facing Taiwan (with Ryo Sahashi; 2019), Conflict and Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region: A Strategic Net Assessment (with Nicholas Eberstadt et al; 2015) and many journal articles and book chapters.
Trita Parsi (Moderator)
Trita Parsi, PhD, is an award-winning author and the 2010 recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. He is an expert on US-Iranian relations, Iranian foreign politics, and the geopolitics of the Middle East. He has authored three books on US foreign policy in the Middle East, with a particular focus on Iran and Israel. He is the co-founder and former President of the National Iranian American Council. He received his PhD in foreign policy at Johns Hopkins’ School for Advanced International Studies, a Master's Degree in International Relations from Uppsala University, and a Master's Degree in Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics.