Saudi-Iranian Relations: A Troubled Trajectory
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Iran and Saudi Arabia are two major regional powers. Indeed the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen (among others) are widely seen as a proxy war between Tehran and Riyadh.
Albadi examines the roots of this rivalry between the Islamic Republic and the Kingdom. He argues that the Shiite-Sunni rift does not tell the whole story. Saudi Arabia has always been suspicious of its large and powerful neighbor. Even under the Pahlavi regime, when the two rivals shared similar foreign policy orientations, Tehran and Riyadh did not have “warm” relations. The toppling of the Shah made a bad situation worse. Saudi Arabia was a major backer of President Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran in most of the 1980s. The relations reached one of its lowest points when more than 400 Iranian pilgrims were killed in Mecca by the Saudi forces. Despite this tense rivalry, Albadi argues that shared economic interests might reduce tension and contribute to confidence-building between the two rivals.