While the Saudi-Iranian relations have mostly been shaped by ‘peaceful rivalry’ since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, they increasingly turned hostile following the so-called ‘Arab Spring’. Building on recent dynamics in the Gulf region, high level politicians of Saudi Arabia and Iran have signaled serious willingness for dialogue and reconciliation. We argue here that these renewed efforts are primarily motivated by security and economic concerns but have also been supported through a series of informal interactions at different societal levels. While dialogue seems possible and desirable, its long-term prospects will be challenged by changing regional dynamics and the respective political will to overcome historical constructs of rivalry and regional competition.
As the international memory of ISIS’ genocide against the Yezidi population of Şengal in Northern Iraq recedes, its victims have been left to languish increasingly hopelessly, in refugee camps with little realistic prospect of returning to their homes. Tens of thousands of displaced Yezidis remain dispersed across Northern Iraq, hundreds of kidnapped Yezidi girls and women are unaccounted for and the fates of many of their male relatives unknown. In the short term, there is an urgent need for international protection from further attacks, the recognition of a political status for Şengal and immediate aid for refugee camps to create the conditions for Yezidi genocide survivors to return, resettle and gain a sense of political stability and empowerment.