Are the recent positive overtones of Iran toward Saudi Arabia a harbinger of rapprochement between the two rival countries?

Observers have noticed that there is a positive tone in Iran’s discourse toward Saudi Arabia that emerged over the past few days. This came in different statements by senior Iranian officials giving positive suggestions for easing the tension between the two countries. 

Bilateral relations between the two regional powerhouses have already come under strains when Riyadh’s diplomatic posts in Tehran and Mashhad were stormed, after Saudi Arabia executed 47 people in a single day, including a dissident Shiite cleric. Also, there are differences between the two countries over what is going on in Syria and Yemen.

While Iran backs the Syrian government and the Yemeni Houthi rebels, Saudi Arabia demands Syrian President al-Assad step down and accuses Tehran of waging a proxy war against the Kingdom in Yemen.

– ‘We will even back Saudi Arabia if it fights Israel’: Iranian president’s special aid

Ali Younesi, the Iranian president’s special aide for ethnic and religious minorities has said the Islamic Republic will support any country that fights Israel. ““We are defending a government which has stood up against Israel. If Jordan or Saudi Arabia made the same resistance, we would support them,” Younesi said according to Tehran Times.

– Tehran, Riyadh agree on hajj talks 

An Iranian delegation will travel to Riyadh on Feb. 23 to resume talks on haj pilgrimage after a one-year hiatus caused by the 2015 haj crush in Mina in which hundreds of Iranian nationals were killed. Ali Qazi-Askar, the Leader representative in hajj affairs said on Wednesday, January 11, “The Iranian delegation will visit Saudi Arabia in response to an invitation by the country.”

Iran stopped sending pilgrims to the annual ritual after the hajj stampede in Mina in September 2015, during which many pilgrims, including Iranians, lost their lives and dozens more wounded, what came to be the deadliest disaster to befall the annual pilgrimage in 25 years.

– Messages exchanged between Iran, S. Arabia: Iraqi FM

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari has said he has exchanged messages between Iran and Saudi Arabia as a mediator.

“Any crisis in Iran-Saudi Arabia relations will influence Iraq and close ties between the two countries will be beneficial to Iraq,” he told IRIB in an exclusive interview published on Saturday, January 14.

– Well-disposed to Riyadh, Iran willing to prevent its fall: Iranian top security official

A top Iranian security official has said Iran is well-disposed to Saudi Arabia, and is trying even to prevent efforts to overthrow the House of Al Saud.

“Despite some perceptions, the Islamic Republic of Iran is not only not seeking to topple the House of Saud, but is actually willing to reign in efforts to prevent the collapse of the Saudi government,” said Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani in comments on Monday, January 16.

He was making the remarks days after the two sides declared intention to resume hajj talks, a move that can lay the groundwork for a détente.

Citing reasons, Shamkhani said there is no guarantee Riyadh won’t fall into the wrong hands after the ruling system collapses, depicting a gloomy picture of when radicalism rises to power.

– Wonderful to live in peace with Iran: Saudi FM

In a brief response to the Iranian positive overtones, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Monday, January 16 that the kingdom’s relationship with Iran is “tense” at the moment, noting “it would be wonderful to live in peace and harmony with Iran.”

In light of the recent non-hostile comments of the Iranian officials toward Saudi Arabia, will there be a kind of rapprochement between the two major Muslim countries under the current regional and international changes?