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Why Iran is concerned about a possible Israeli-Saudi deal

The US government's pushes to revive diplomacy for Israel-Saudi normalization has fueled serious worries in Tehran, where officials were hoping the Gaza war would sabotage the efforts altogether.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh on April 29, 2024.

TEHRAN — Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the man with the ultimate word in the country's key foreign matters, has declared his explicit unease as prospects of normalization between the sworn enemy, Israel, and the regional rival, Saudi Arabia, appear back on the horizon. 

"They wrongly assume that the West Asia problems will be tackled," Khamenei said in a televised speech on Wednesday, in reference to reports of Saudi leaders' conditional willingness to engage in US-brokered diplomacy for rapprochement with Israel.

"Even if their relations with the Zionist regime are normalized," Khamenei warned, "the deal will pit their own nations against them." From his perspective, rapprochement with Israel will be interpreted as "turning a blind eye on Israeli crimes," consequently sparking anger from the Saudi public. 

Khamenei's comments were in response to a recent visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Riyadh, where he attempted to reset earlier efforts for a Saudi-Israeli normalization pact. 

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