Saudi Arabia and Iran have been in conflict for decades. They are long-time enemies of each other, but recently tensions have increased greatly.
The reasons for this can be explained as follows:
Why don’t Iran and Saudi Arabia go together?
Saudi Arabia and Iran are two powerful neighbors and are desperately seeking their superiority in the region.
For decades, the controversy has been heightened by religious differences. The two countries are followers of one of the two main branches of Islam. Iran has a majority of Shia Muslims, while Saudi Arabia views itself as a leader of Sunni Muslims.
This religious sectarianism appears to be more prevalent on the map of the Middle East, where some countries, including Shiites or Sunnis, look to Iran or Saudi Arabia for help or guidance.
Islam has historically originated in Saudi Arabia and has seen itself as the head of the Muslim world. But this situation changed after the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979 when it created a new kind of ‘religious revolutionary’ state in the region and one of its mission was to introduce this new system beyond its borders.
Over the past 15 years, differences between Iran and Saudi Arabia in particular have increased due to different events.
The US-led invasion of 2003 led to the end of Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq, which is Sunni Arab, and Iran’s major opposition. This eliminated a major military force that was facing Iran in the area. The path to a Shiite-dominated government opened in Baghdad, and since then Iran’s influence in the country has been increasing.
Speaking of the year 2011, the political upheavals in the Arab countries have been affected by various uprisings which affected the entire region. Iran and Saudi Arabia used this opportunity to exert their influence in the region, especially in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, and their mutual suspicions increased in the meantime.
Iran’s critics say it is based on a policy of establishing itself or its own support groups in the region. And thus wants to build a controlled transit route from Iran to the Mediterranean.
Where the fuck?
Iran is succeeding in its policy in the region in many respects, and this is one of the reasons for the escalation of the rivalry.
With the support of Iran and Russia in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad was able to defeat Saudi-backed rebel groups in a big way.
Saudi Arabia is desperately trying to curtail Iran’s growing influence, while military action by young Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman is increasing tensions in the region.
They have declared war on the Yemeni rebels in Yemen so that their view of Iran’s influence there can be abolished, but after four years, this decision is proving costly.
Iran denies accusations of providing arms to Houthi rebels. However, UN experts have concluded in their report that Tehran supports the use of weapons and technology.
Hezbollah, a Shiite militia in Lebanon, has Iran’s support, and along with political power, they have an armed force. Many observers have claimed that Saudi Arabia forced Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign in 2017 despite his support because Hezbollah was involved in the conflict in the region.
Later he returned to Lebanon and postponed his resignation.
External forces are also involved. In the United States, the Trump administration supports Saudi Arabia, and because Israel considers Iran a major threat, Israel is somehow ‘with Saudi Arabia’ to stop Iran.
Israel is fearful of the continued advance of Iranian-backed fighters in Syria who are approaching its border.
In 2015, Saudi Arabia and Israel strongly opposed the World Nuclear Deal with Iran, saying it would not reduce Iran’s chances of acquiring nuclear weapons and making bombs.
Who are the regional allies?
The map of the Middle East reflects the split between Shiites and Sunnis in a way.
Saudi Arabia’s supporters in the Persian Gulf are other major Sunni countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan.
Iran’s friends, on the other hand, are Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has been supported by Iranian-backed Shiite militia groups, including Lebanese-based Hezbollah, whose fighters fight Sunni rebel groups.
The Shia-majority government in Iraq also supports Iran, but Iraq also has close ties with Washington, which helped them fight Islamic State.
What are the effects of hostility?
This is in many respects a territorial cold war, as the United States and the Soviet Union have experienced intense military tensions for many years.
Iran and Saudi Arabia are not fighting directly with each other, but there are several proxy wars in the region in which they appear to be backing their own allied militias or groups in the region.
The example of Syria is in front of everyone, while Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of delivering ballistic missiles to Yemeni rebels in Yemen that fired on Saudi territories.
Iran is also accused of trying to show its power in the Persian Gulf. This is where Saudi Arabia sends its oil to the world. The United States has said that Iran has been involved in attacks on foreign oil tankers in recent times, but Iran denies the allegations.
Is there a direct war between Saudi Arabia and Iran?
So far, Tehran and Riyadh have fought only proxy wars. Both countries are not ready for a direct war. However, as with any major attack or recent incident of the Houthi rebels on Saudi Arabia’s capital, it could have gone hand-in-hand if it had targeted a major economic site.
The Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia’s infrastructure has further strained relations between Tehran and Riyadh. On the Gulf coast, where the two countries face each other, rising tensions can also trigger a major battle.
For the United States and other Western countries, freedom of movement is an important issue in the Persian Gulf and any conflict or conflict that could affect the waterways could force the US Navy or Air Force to move. These routes are important for international shipping and oil delivery.
The United States and its allies have long viewed Iran as a destabilizing force in the Middle East. Iran is a threat to the Saudi government and it is under the impression that the Saudi Crusader is willing to take any action against it to prevent its further influence from Iran.
Recent attacks on oil installations have highlighted Saudi Arabia’s weakness. The two are more likely to break out of a war than to think of something as sudden as an accident. But confusion about Saudi Arabia’s offensive policy and the Trump administration’s policy in the region is also a cause for tension in the region.