Saudi-Iranian Rivalry Mushrooms to Threaten the Middle East

The increasingly fierce rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia ensures greater conflict for the Middle East. Countries are left with little option but to choose sides on this rivalry that is treacherous for the region, explains Rakesh Sood, India’s former ambassador to multiple nations and a disarmament specialist. Two historical events contributed to pitting Saudi Arabia, the United States and Israel against Iran, Russia and Turkey: the 1979 Iranian revolution that heightened sectarian tensions and the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989 that led to a partnership among US and Saudi intelligence agencies in backing the mujahideen. Wars and foreign intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have instigated extremism which in turn brought political leadership and hardline policies. The Arab Spring offered only a brief promise of democratic reforms before falling way to fragmentation, proxy conflicts and coups. As Sood concludes, spreading nationalism and conflict won’t resolve the many domestic challenges, and the region could hit a tipping point in 2018. – YaleGlobal