Iran and Saudi Arabia demand ceasefire in Gaza | ET REALITY

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After the Saudi and Iranian leaders finished their speeches, they left the main conference room for a bilateral meeting.

Prince Mohammed’s welcome to Mr. Raisi represented a notable shift for the Saudi leader, who once bluntly warned Iran against pursuing expansionist policies in the region. “We will not wait for the battle to be in Saudi Arabia,” he said in a televised interview in 2017. “Instead, we will work so that the battle is for them in Iran, not in Saudi Arabia.”

He also once compared Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to Hitler in interviews with American media outlets. “Because he wants to expand, he wants to create his own project in the Middle East, much like Hitler, who wanted to expand at that time,” the crown prince told CBS News in 2018.

Kristin Diwan, a resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, said Riyadh’s close consultations with Iran demonstrated the kingdom’s pragmatism.

“They know that Iranian cooperation is necessary to prevent the conflict from spreading and, perhaps, even to achieve an end to Hamas,” Diwan said.

“But with some leaders cornered by normalization and others demanding tougher measures, Saudi Arabia is well positioned to maintain a middle ground,” he said. “To succeed, they will need Americans to step up.”

Since the war, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its regional allies have carried out a series of rocket and drone attacks against US forces in Iraq and Syria. Hezbollah, the powerful Iranian-backed militia group in Lebanon, has also continued to exchange fire with Israel’s military, raising fears of a broader conflict.

Hamas’ ties with Iran have also evolved in recent years. One of the group’s leaders in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, restored Hamas’ ties with Iran, which had been frayed in 2012, when Hamas closed its office in Syria, a close ally of Iran, during the Syrian civil war.

That restoration deepened the relationship between Hamas’s military wing in Gaza and the so-called axis of resistance, Iran’s network of regional militias, according to diplomats and security officials.

Saudi Arabia had initially scheduled two summits for this weekend, one for the Arab League and the second for members of the much larger Organization of Islamic Cooperation. But on Saturday they combined into a single event and a new unity, however superficial, was evident.

Also attending the summit were President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. The presence of Assad, who was shunned for atrocities in Syria’s civil war, cemented his return to the regional fold when he joined an annual summit of Arab leaders in May for the first time in 13 years.

Raisi also met with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt on the sidelines of the summit and discussed the normalization of diplomatic relations between Cairo and Tehran. Iran and Egypt severed ties after the 1979 revolution and briefly resumed them during the brief presidency of Mohamed Morsi, a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who was Egypt’s first democratically elected president.

Ahmed Al-Omran reported from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Yara Bayoumy of Jerusalem. Farnaz Fassihi contributed reporting from New York.

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