“Riyadh is attempting to buy down the risk of Iran,” said Jonathan Lord, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
U.S. officials remain uncertain whether the Iranians, ultimately, will honor that commitment, meaning the whole agreement could fall through. By design, the deal does not immediately reestablish diplomatic relations, but rather stipulates the countries will do so in two months, with several elements still to be worked out.
Oman also played a significant role in the breakthrough, the senior administration official said, which in part prompted President Biden to call Oman’s sultan this week.
The United States is a major defense provider to Saudi Arabia, including Patriot missile defense batteries. But Lord said allowing China to broker the diplomatic deal would not threaten that relationship. U.S. Central Command, which has thousands of U.S. troops to the kingdom and elsewhere in the Middle East, “will continue to work closely with its regional partners to advance a regional security architecture,” he said. “This agreement won’t come in the way of that.”
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