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Eli Lake

Why the Saudis Are Reaching Out to Iran

A new U.S. president is causing Arab states to seek new friendships and reexamine old ones.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman: Sending friend requests.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman: Sending friend requests.

Photographer: Leon Neal/Getty Images Europe

Late last month, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman offered an olive branch to his country’s main adversary. Speaking on Saudi television, the kingdom’s de facto ruler said he seeks “to have good relations” with Iran.

That represents at least a rhetorical retreat for the Saudis, who are fighting a vicious and destructive war against Iran’s Houthi proxies in Yemen and were public supporters of former President Donald Trump’s economic warfare against Iran. It was only three years ago that Prince Mohammed said that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “makes Hitler look good.”