Iranian President Visits Saudi Arabia for Gaza Summit

    Photo: Sakineh Salimi/Borna News/Aksonline ATPImages/Getty Images News via Getty Images (Apr. 29, 2023)

    The Facts

    • Iran's Pres. Ebrahim Raisi joined Arab and Muslim leaders for a summit hosted by Saudi Arabia on Saturday — the first visit by an Iranian president to the kingdom in more than a decade — following the escalation of regional tensions due to the war in Gaza.

    • Addressing the summit, Raisi called on the delegates to designate the Israeli army as a "terrorist organization," while leaders from the 57 mostly Muslim-majority states rejected Israeli claims that it was acting in self-defense.


    The Spin

    Anti-Iran narrative

    While the summit was intended to signal the Muslim world's unity against the alleged Israeli crimes in Gaza, it ended up showing disagreement above all. The participants not only rejected Tehran's push for sanctions against Israel because of its counter-offensive against Hamas, but they also rejected its demand to break off existing relations with Israel and to designate its army as a terrorist organization. What is preventing Muslim unity and regional peace is not Israel but the Iranian regime, which only seeks confrontation with Tel Aviv.

    Pro-Iran narrative

    Iran's presence at the summit was historic and highlighted how Israel's brutal campaign of collective punishment against Palestinians is not only uniting the Muslim world but also creating further rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as countries such as Egypt. The fact that there is not full consensus at such a major summit is nothing unusual and doesn't undermine the growing spirit of Muslim unity. It's not Iran but Israel and its Western sponsors who are sowing discord and have no interest in regional peace.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 57% chance that Saudi Arabia will normalize its relations with Israel by 2031 if Iran gets a nuclear bomb by then, according to the Metaculus prediction community.



    Establishment split

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    PRO

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