The Maldives has reestablished diplomatic relations with Iran after a seven-year hiatus, which began when the Indian Ocean nation severed ties with Iran in support of Saudi Arabia. The move occurred during a meeting between the foreign ministers of both countries on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. This reconciliation follows a Chinese-brokered détente between Iran and Saudi Arabia in March, which led to the resumption of diplomatic relations and the reopening of embassies between the two Middle Eastern nations.
The restoration of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran marked a significant diplomatic breakthrough in the region. Since then, Saudi Arabia has also renewed relations with Iran’s ally, Syria, and increased its efforts to broker peace in Yemen, where it has led a coalition against the Iran-backed Houthi forces.
For years, Iran and Saudi Arabia have supported opposing sides in various conflict zones across the Middle East. Saudi Arabia cut off its relations with Iran in 2016 after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in response to the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric by the Saudi government.
In addition to the Maldives, Djibouti, another nation that had severed ties with Iran, recently restored diplomatic relations with Iran in New York. The Maldives has no formal diplomatic relations with Israel, although it is a popular tourist destination for Israelis. While the two countries had thriving diplomatic relations in the past, they were suspended in 1974. Relations between the Maldives and Israel began improving in the 1990s, with cooperation agreements signed in fields such as tourism, health, education, and culture. However, full diplomatic relations have not been reestablished. The Maldives, an archipelago with a predominantly Muslim population, does not tolerate the public practice of religions other than Islam and does not grant non-Muslims citizenship.