The two powerful neighbors, Saudi-Iran are whacked off in a rather fierce confrontation over regional dominance. The years-long grudge is mainly aggravated by the religious difference between the two. Saudi Arabia claimed to be the significant Muslim Sunni power while Iran is majorly driven by Shiite ideology.
The historic sectarian detachment between the two has now been morphed into the grapple for regional dominance between the two leading Muslim ideologies, Shia political power led by Iran whereas the Sunni dogmatic power is led by Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, the strategic rivalry is heating up with Iran’s endearing regional supremacy and getting its hands strident over the other countries of the middle east. In Syria, the forces of Bashar al Assad backed by Iran are mainly course-plotting to curb the rebels backed by Saudi Arabia.
Understanding the matter better
However, Saudi Arabia is trying very hard to contain the escalating influence of Iran over the region. Nonetheless, the military adventurism of the rather impulsive crown prince of Saudi Arabia Muhammad bin Salman is further exasperating the regional tension.
Moreover, the confrontation between the two arch-rivals has immersed many middle eastern countries into its loop. The young and impulsive Crown prince is indulging it country in a confrontation with Houthis in Yemen over the perceived thinking that Iran is backing them and supplying them with weaponry and technology, mainly to curb the Iranian influence but it’s proving to be a very costly endeavor. While Iran has categorically denied the allegations despite the report presented by the UN panel of experts which states that Houthis are getting strong assistance from Tehran.
Meanwhile in Lebanon, Iran is backing the Hizballah a Shiite rebel group that controls a large political group and possesses a strong political holding, and holds a heavily armed force. In 2017, the Lebanese Prime minister, Saad Hariri resigned due to the pressure from Saudi Arabia over the involvement of Houthis in the region.
In the struggle of achieving dominance over the region, many external powers are also playing their part. Saudi Arabia is being backed by the US, predominantly by the trump administration, and also emboldened by Israel which sees Iran as a Mortal threat and is thus backing Saudi Arabia for containing Iran. Israel is mainly dreadful of rebels backed by Iran over their infringement closer to their borders.
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The confrontation between the two powerful powers is in many ways equivalent to the cold war, which has rutted out the US and USSR for many years into proxies. The same is being witnessed here, Saudi Arabia and Iran aren’t directly fighting but are brewing proxies for each other for decades.
Syria and Yemen have been scrutinized as major battlefields for the two powerful nations. In Yemen, Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of supplying ballistic missiles to Houthis for attacking Aramco, a major Saudi economic infrastructure.
The way forward
Iran is also being alleged for flexing its muscle in strategic pathways of the gulf by which the major supply of Saudi Arabia is shipped. The US has also accused Iran of attacks on its oil tanker, but the allegations have been denied by Iran.
So far, both the ideologies have remained indulged in war via innumerable proxies but have neither pitched up for a direct war. But the recent attacks on Saudi Arabia’s capital by the Iran-backed Houthis rebels have the propensity to distraught the apple cart.
The attack by Houthi rebels over the major Saudi economic infrastructure has inevitably added a new front to already heated ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The aggravating events can result in a major conflict between the two.
For any country, the freedom of navigation is pertinent to their economy, particularly for the US and other western power. For that, any conflict that sought to chunk the waterway could easily lure in US naval and air forces.
The writer is an International Relations graduate from National Defence University (NDU) Islamabad and a freelance writer. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.