The diplomatic rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, signed in China on 10 March 2023, promises to herald an important process of de-escalation in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. While significant challenges remain, and it is too early to tell if the breakthrough can be sustained, there is no debating the significance of this agreement in both symbolic and strategic terms.

This lecture will contextualize the recent thaw in Saudi-Iran relations against the backdrop of broader regional realignments and the emergence of an increasingly multipolar Middle East. It will reflect on the individual motivations behind the agreement from the perspective of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China and dissect its broader significance as a reflection of the gradual emergence of a post-US order in the region. 

Speaker: Dr. Andrea Dessì 
Adjunct Faculty at The American University of Rome and Head of the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Africa program at the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI)

Andrea Dessì has worked extensively on US and European foreign policy towards the Middle East with a particular focus on the diplomatic and military history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, US policy towards Israel, and Washington’s alliance frameworks in the Middle East. His research interests include security studies, the geopolitics of the Middle East, and the intersection between global and regional trends and developments. Andrea holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) with a thesis on the US-Israel relationship during the 1980s. He has worked with IAI since 2011.

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