Diplomacy: Theory and Practice, 6th ed.  –  Online updating pages

Chapter 16: Mediation

p. 262, Box 16.1: There is an excellent account of Omani good offices in the top secret US-Iran negotiations on nuclear matters in 2013 in the memoirs of the US lead negotiator, William J. Burns (see Further reading below).

p. 264ff, Track One: An important recent example is provided by China’s successful mediation in Beijing of an agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore their diplomatic relations after a breach of seven years, dated 10 March 2023. This significantly increased the PRC’s prestige and further strengthened its position in the Middle East. Its success clearly benefited from: (1) its good relations with both parties, (2) its economic muscle, (3) the groundwork already done by Iraq and Oman, (4) the determination of the Saudis to show Washington that it had other options, and not least (5) the limited nature of the agreement.
It is worth noting that it provided for the reopening of embassies and missions ‘within a period not exceeding two months’; that is, by early in the second week of May. There was some slippage in this timetable but the Iranian Embassy in Riyadh had opened by early June 2023 and, according to Al Jazeera, the Saudi Embassy in Tehran re-opened at some point in August.

p. 265, mid-page, ‘… middle powers such as Turkey …’: Turkey achieved prominence as a regional mediator by its pivotal contribution to the Black Sea grain deal in July 2022, and it’s indicative of the importance it attaches to mediation that the Turkish foreign ministry has a detailed page on the subject. This notes Turkey’s attempts to mediate in particular conflicts. However, it dwells at greater length on its ‘pioneering role’ in promoting this form of diplomacy under the aegis of the UN, the OSCE and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), as well as by means of conferences on mediation in Istanbul and a training programme for junior OIC diplomats in Ankara.

p. 266, Austria: for a valuable (and alarming) update on Austria, see the Karnitschnig piece in Further reading below.

Topics for Seminar Discussion or Essays
6.  ‘… the Swiss approach [to neutrality] sometimes verges on the assertion ‘Whatever we do, is neutral’ (Hughes, Switzerland, p. 153) Discuss.

Further reading

Al Jazzzera, ‘Saudi and Iran exchange ambassadors after rapprochement’, 5 September 2023

Burns, William J., The Back Channel: American diplomacy in a disordered world (Hurst: London, 2021); first publ. by Random House in 2019 as The Back Channel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and the Case for Its Renewal, Ch. 9

Gritten, David, ‘Iran hails ‘new era’ as embassy reopens in Saudi Arabia’, BBC News, 6 June 2023

Hughes, Christopher, Switzerland (Enest Benn, 1975), pp. 148-55

Karnitschnig, Matthew, ‘How Putin hijacked Austria’s spy service — and is now gunning for its government’, Politico, 24 May 2024

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, ‘Joint Trilateral Statement by the People’s Republic of China, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Islamic Republic of Iran’, 10 March 2023

Nereim, Vivian, ‘Saudi Arabia and Iran Agree to Restore Ties, in Talks Hosted by China’, The New York Times, 10 March 2023

Poyrazlar, Elçin, ‘Why Israel-Hamas is Erdoğan’s new “mission impossible”’, Politico, 13 October, 2023

Reuters, ‘Turkey announces deal with Ukraine, Russia and UN aimed at resuming grain exports’, 14 July 2022

Wintour, Patrick, ‘Iran and Saudi Arabia agree to restore ties after China-brokered talks’, The Guardian, 10 March 2023

Wintour, Patrick, ‘What was the Black Sea grain deal and why did it collapse?’, The Guardian, 20 July 2023