Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict
Part of the Arab Winter and Cold War II
Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict.png
  Saudi Arabia
  Major proxy conflict locations
Date11 February 1979 – ongoing[72][73]
(42 years, 8 months, 1 week and 2 days)
Middle East, Muslim areas of Africa (mainly Nigeria), Central Asia, and South Asia (mainly Afghanistan and Pakistan[74])

Syrian Civil War (2011–present)

Yemeni Civil War (2014–present)

Commanders and leaders

Ali Khamenei
(Supreme Leader of Iran)
Ebrahim Raisi
(President of Iran)
Esmail Ghaani
(Quds Force commander)
Bashar al-Assad
(President of Syria)
Hassan Nasrallah
(Secretary-General of Hezbollah)
Hadi Al-Amiri
(Leader of the Badr Organization)
Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi
(Leader of Ansar Allah)
Qais al-Khazali
(Secretary-General of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq)[75]
Akram al-Kaabi
(Secretary-General of Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba)[76]
Iraq Nouri al-Maliki (Secretary-General of Islamic Dawa Party)[77]
Mohammad Ali Jafari (2007–19)
(Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps)[78][79][80]
Qassim al-Muamen (Leader of Al-Ashtar Brigades)[81]
Abu Ala al-Walai (Secretary-General of Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada)[82]

King Salman
(King of Saudi Arabia)
Mohammad bin Salman
(Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and Minister of Defense)
Abdulaziz bin Saud
(Minister of Interior)[84]
Thamer al-Sabhan
(Minister of Gulf Affairs)[85]
Obeid Fadel Al-Shammari
(Commander of Saudi Arabia Force in Yemen)[86]
Fahd bin Turki bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
(Commander of the Joint Forces)[87]
Hassan bin Hamza al-Shehri
(Commander of the PSF)[88]
Maryam Rajavi
(Leader of the People's Mojahedin of Iran and "President-Elect" of Iran)
Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi
(President of Yemen)
Former leaders
Units involved
  • Armed Forces of Saudi Arabia
  • Free Syrian Army
  • Yemen Armed Forces (pro-Hadi)
  • Tareq Saleh Forces
  • The Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict, sometimes also referred to as the Middle Eastern Cold War,[93] is the ongoing struggle for influence in the Middle East and other Muslim regions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.[94] The two countries have provided varying degrees of support to opposing sides in nearby conflicts, including the civil wars in Syria[95][96][97] and Yemen;[98] and disputes in Bahrain,[99] Lebanon,[100] and Qatar.[101] It also extends to disputes or broader competition in other regions such as Nigeria,[102][103] Pakistan,[104][105] Afghanistan[106][107] and other parts of North[108] and East Africa,[103][109] South Asia,[110] Central Asia,[111][107] Southeast Asia, the Balkans,[112] and the Caucasus.[113]

    In what has been described as a cold war, the conflict is waged on multiple levels over geopolitical, economic, and sectarian influence in pursuit of regional hegemony.[114][115] American support for Saudi Arabia and its allies as well as Russian and Chinese support for Iran and its allies have drawn comparisons to the dynamics of the Cold War era, and the proxy conflict has been characterized as a front in what former Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has referred to as the "New Cold War".[116][117][118][119]

    The rivalry today is primarily a political and economic struggle exacerbated by religious differences, and sectarianism in the region is exploited by both countries for geopolitical purposes as part of a larger conflict.[115][120][121] Iran is largely Shia Muslim, while Saudi Arabia sees itself as the leading Sunni Muslim power.[122]


    Arab–Iranian conflict[edit]

    The Arab–Iranian conflict[123][124][125][126] or Arab-Persian conflict is a term which is used in reference to the modern conflict between Arab League countries and Iran. In a broader sense, the term is also used in reference to the historical ethnic tensions which have existed for centuries between Arabs and Persians[127] as well as the historical religious sectarian conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslims,[128] due to Saudi Arabia and post-revolutionary Iran seeing themselves as the champion leading states for Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims, respectively.

    A noteworthy point in this conflict is that Iran has very positive relations with numerous Arab countries such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Algeria and Tunisia. Qatar also has established close working relations with Tehran, despite their differences of opinion over the Syrian civil war, with Iran and Turkey two of the non-Arab countries to support Qatar against Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries in the Qatar diplomatic crisis which lasted for over two years. In this regard, the rivalry and tension is often seen as being between Iran and Gulf Arab monarchies (all of which identify more with theocratic governance), such as the GCC states and their allies: namely Egypt, Sudan, Jordan and Morocco. The biggest rivalry in the Arab–Iranian conflict is between Saudi Arabia and Iran, who have been waging a heavy proxy war against each other since the late 1970s.

    Iranian Revolution[edit]

    The proxy conflict can be traced back to the Iranian Revolution in 1979, when the US-backed monarchic Imperial State of Iran became an Islamic republic. The revolutionaries called for the overthrow of monarchies and secular governments to be replaced with Islamic republics, much to the alarm of the region's Sunni run Arab monarchies Saudi Arabia, Ba'athist Iraq, Kuwait, and the other Persian Gulf states, most of whom were monarchies and all of whom had sizable Shia populations. Islamist insurgents rose in Saudi Arabia in 1979, Egypt and Bahrain in 1981, Syria in 1982, and Lebanon in 1983.

    Prior to the Iranian Revolution, the two countries constituted the Nixon Doctrine's "twin pillar" policy in the Middle East.[129] The monarchies, particularly Iran since the US-led coup in 1953, were allied with the US to ensure stability in the Gulf region and act as a bulwark against Soviet influence during the Arab Cold War between Saudi Arabia and Egypt under Gamal Abdel Nasser. The alliance acted as a moderating influence on Saudi-Iranian relations.[130]

    During this period Saudi Arabia styled itself as the leader of the Muslim world, basing its legitimacy in part on its control of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. In 1962, it sponsored the inaugural General Islamic Conference in Mecca, at which a resolution was passed to create the Muslim World League. The organization is dedicated to spreading Islam and fostering Islamic solidarity under the Saudi purview, and has been successful in promoting Islam, particularly the conservative Wahhabi doctrine advocated by the Saudi government.[131] Saudi Arabia also spearheaded the creation of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in 1969.

    Saudi Arabia's image as the leader of the Muslim world was undermined in 1979 with the rise of Iran's new theocratic government under Ayatollah Khomeini, who challenged the legitimacy of the Al Saud dynasty and its authority as Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.[132][133] King Khalid initially congratulated Iran and stated that "Islamic solidarity" could be the basis of closer relations between the two countries, but relations worsened substantially over the next decade.

    Qatif and Khuzestan conflicts[edit]

    1987 Makkah incident[edit]

    In response to the 1987 Makkah incident in which Shia pilgrims clashed with Saudi security forces during the Hajj, Khomeini stated: "These vile and ungodly Wahhabis, are like daggers which have always pierced the heart of the Muslims from the back...Mecca is in the hands of a band of heretics."[134] Iran also called for the ouster of the Saudi government.[135]


    Arab Spring[edit]

    Member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council

    The current phase of the conflict began in 2011 when the Arab Spring (Islamic Awakening) a revolutionary wave across the Middle East and North Africa, leading to revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen, and the outbreak of civil war in Libya and Syria. The Arab Spring in 2011 destabilized three major regional actors, Iraq, Syria and Egypt, creating a power void.[136] These uprisings across the Arab world caused political instability throughout the region. In response, Saudi Arabia called for the formation of a Gulf Union to deepen ties among the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a political and economic bloc founded in 1981. The proposal reflected the Saudi government's preoccupation with preventing potential uprisings by disenfranchised minorities in the Gulf monarchies as well as its regional rivalry with Iran.[137] The union would have centralized Saudi influence in the region by giving it greater control over military, economic, and political matters affecting member states. With the exception of Bahrain, members rejected the proposed federation, as Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates were wary that it would lead to Saudi dominance.[138]

    Arab Winter[edit]

    Saudi Arabia has become increasingly concerned about the United States' commitment as an ally and security guarantor. The American foreign policy pivot to Asia, its lessening reliance on Saudi oil, and the potential of rapprochement with Iran have all contributed to a more assertive Saudi foreign policy.[73] In 2015 Saudi Arabia formed the intergovernmental Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT) in December 2015 with the stated goal of combating terrorism. The coalition currently comprises 41 member states, all of which are led by Sunni-dominated governments. Shia-led Iran, Iraq, and Syria are notably excluded, something which has drawn concerns that the initiative is part of the Saudi effort to isolate Iran.[139][140] Due to the decreasing importance of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict as a wedge issue and mutual tensions with Iran, GCC states have sought strengthened economic and security cooperation with Israel, which is involved in its own proxy conflict with Iran.[141]

    The onset of the Arab Winter exacerbated Saudi concerns about Iran as well as its own internal stability. This prompted Riyadh to take greater action to maintain the status quo, particularly within Bahrain and other bordering states, with a new foreign policy described as a "21st century version of the Brezhnev Doctrine".[142][143] Iran took the opposite approach in the hope of taking advantage of regional instability by expanding its presence in the Shia crescent and creating a land corridor of influence stretching from Iraq to Lebanon, done in part by supporting Shia militias in the war against ISIL.[144][145]

    While they all share concern over Iran, the Sunni Arab governments both within and outside of the GCC have long disagreed on political Islam. Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi religious establishment and its top-down bureaucracy differ from some of its allies such as Qatar, which promotes populist Sunni Islamist platforms similar to that of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey. Qatar has also drawn criticism from neighboring Sunni countries for its support of controversial transnational organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, which as of 2015 is considered a terrorist organization by the governments of Bahrain, Egypt, Russia, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.[146] The United Arab Emirates, on the other hand, supports anti-Islamist forces in Libya, Egypt, Yemen and other countries, and is focused more on domestic issues, similar to Egypt under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. These differences make it unlikely that the Sunni world could unite against both Iran and terrorism, despite shared opposition.[147] Since King Salman came to power in 2015, Saudi Arabia has increasingly moved from its traditional Wahhabist ideological approach to a nationalist one, and has adopted a more aggressive foreign policy.[148]

    The complex nature of economic and security concerns, ideological division, and intertwined alliances has also drawn comparisons to pre-World War I Europe.[149] The conflict also shares similarities with the Arab Cold War between Egypt and Saudi Arabia in the 1950s and 1960s. Influence was judged by each state's ability to affect the affairs of neighboring countries, non-state actors played significant roles, and disunity in both camps led to tactical alliances between states on opposing sides.[93][150]

    2015 Mina stampede[edit]

    Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Tehran under Iranian police protection after the Mina stampede crisis

    The 2015 Mina stampede in Mecca during the annual Hajj pilgrimage further inflamed tensions. Tehran blamed the Saudi government for the tragedy and accused them of incompetence, which Riyadh rejected.[151][152][153] In May 2016 Iran suspended participation in the upcoming Hajj.[154] In September, Saudi Arabia launched a 24-hour Persian language satellite channel to broadcast the Hajj proceedings from 10 to 15 September. Ayatollah Khamenei accused Riyadh of politicizing the Hajj tragedy and argued that Saudi Arabia should not be running the pilgrimage.[155][156]

    2016 Saudi executions and attack on Saudi mission in Iran[edit]

    On 2 January 2016, 47 people were put to death in several Saudi cities, including prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. Protesters of the executions responded by demonstrating in Iran's capital, Tehran. That same day a few protesters would eventually ransack the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and later set it ablaze.[157] Police donned riot gear and arrested 40 people during the incident.[158][159][160] In response, Saudi Arabia, along with its allies, Bahrain, Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia, and the Comoros cut diplomatic ties with Iran.[161][162] Iran's foreign ministry responded by saying the Saudis were using the incident as a pretext for fueling tensions.[163]

    Upon taking the throne in 2015, King Salman made significant changes in domestic policy in an effort to address growing unemployment and economic uncertainty.[164] Such economic pressures further affected the regional dynamic in 2016. Russia, which had long maintained ties with Iran, also sought closer ties to Saudi Arabia. In September 2016, the two nations conducted informal talks about cooperating on oil production. Both had been heavily affected by the collapse of oil prices and considered the possibility of an OPEC freeze on oil output. As part of the talks, Russian President Vladimir Putin recommended an exemption for Iran, whose oil output had steadily increased following the lifting of international sanctions in January 2016. He stated that Iran deserved the opportunity to reach its pre-sanction levels of output.[165][166] In what was seen as a significant compromise, Saudi Arabia offered to reduce its oil production if Iran capped its own output by the end of 2016.[167]

    Extremist movements throughout the Middle East have also become a major division between Iran and Saudi Arabia. During the Cold War, Saudi Arabia funded extremist militants in part to bolster resistance to the Soviet Union at the behest of the United States, and later to combat Shia movements supported by Iran. The support had the unintended effect of metastasizing extremism throughout the region. The Saudi government now considers extremist groups like ISIL and the Al-Nusra Front to be one of the two major threats to the kingdom and its monarchy, the other being Iran.[168] In a New York Times op-ed, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif agreed that terrorism was an international threat and called on the United Nations to block funding of extremist ideologies using Iran's WAVE initiative as a framework. However, he placed the blame on Saudi Arabia and its sponsorship of Wahhabism for instability in the Middle East. He argued that Wahhabism was the fundamental ideology shared among terrorist groups in the Middle East, and that it has been "devastating in its impact". He went so far as to proclaim "Let us rid the world of Wahhabism" and asserted that, despite arguments otherwise, Wahhabism was the true cause of the Iran–Saudi Arabia rivalry.[169]

    The election of Donald Trump in the United States in 2016 prompted uncertainty from both countries about future US policy in the Middle East, as both were targets of criticism during his campaign. The Saudi government anticipated that the Trump administration would adopt a more hawkish stance than the Obama administration on Iran, which would potentially benefit Riyadh. Iran feared the return of economic isolation, and President Hassan Rouhani made efforts to establish further international economic participation for the country by signing oil deals with Western companies before Trump took office.[170]


    In May 2017, Trump declared a shift in US foreign policy toward favoring Saudi Arabia at Iran's expense, marking a departure from President Obama's more reconciliatory approach. This move came days after the re-election of Rouhani in Iran, who defeated conservative candidate Ebrahim Raisi. Rouhani's victory was seen as a popular mandate for liberal reforms in the country.[171]

    Several incidents in mid-2017 further heightened tensions. In May 2017, Saudi forces laid siege on Al-Awamiyah, the home of Nimr al-Nimr, in a clash with Shia militants.[citation needed] Dozens of Shia civilians were reportedly killed. Residents are not allowed to enter or leave, and military indiscriminately shells the neighborhoods with artillery fire and snipers are reportedly shooting residents.[172][173][174] In June, the Iranian state-owned news agency Press TV reported that the president of a Quran council and two cousins of executed Nimr al-Nimr were killed by Saudi security forces in Qatif. During the subsequent crackdown the Saudi government demolished several historical sites and many other buildings and houses in Qatif.[175] On 17 June, Iran announced that the Saudi coast guard had killed an Iranian fisherman.[176] Soon after, Saudi authorities captured three Iranian citizens who they claimed were IRGC members plotting a terrorist attack on an offshore Saudi oilfield.[177] Iran denied the claim, saying that those captured are regular fishermen and demanding their immediate release.[178]

    Salman of Saudi Arabia, US President Trump, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the 2017 Riyadh summit.

    In the wake of the June 2017 Tehran attacks committed by ISIL militants, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps issued a statement blaming Saudi Arabia, while Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said there was no evidence that Saudis were involved.[179] Later Iranian official Hossein Amir-Abdollahian stated that Saudi Arabia is the prime suspect behind the Tehran attacks. The commander of IRGC, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, claimed that Iran has intelligence proving Saudi Arabia's, Israel's, and the United States' involvement in the Tehran attack.[180] Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei later accused the United States of creating ISIL and of joining Saudi Arabia in funding and directing ISIL in addition to other terrorist organizations.[181]

    In October 2017, the government of Switzerland announced an agreement in which it would represent Saudi interests in Iran and Iranian interests in Saudi Arabia. The two countries had severed relations in January 2016.[182]

    Several major developments occurring in November 2017 drew concerns that that proxy conflict might escalate into a direct military confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia.[183][184] On 4 November the Royal Saudi Air Defense intercepted a ballistic missile over Riyadh International Airport. Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir asserted that the missile was supplied by Iran and launched by Hezbollah militants from territory held by Houthi rebels in Yemen. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman called it "direct military aggression by the Iranian regime" and said that it "may be considered an act of war against the kingdom".[185] Also on 4 November, the Prime Minister of Lebanon resigned, sparking a political crisis seen as part of a Saudi effort to counteract Iran's influence in the country. Bahrain also blamed a 10 November explosion on its main oil pipeline on Iran.[186]

    On 24 November 2017, Dubai's security chief Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan blamed the 2017 Sinai attack on Al-Jazeera and called for bombing of the network by a Saudi-led coalition.[187] In late November 2017, IRGC commander Jafari said revolutionary Islamic paramilitary forces had formed across the Middle East and surrounding regions to counter the influence of ultraconservative militant jihadi groups and Western powers.[188]

    In 2017 Saudi Arabia funded the creation of the Persian language satellite TV station Iran International, operated from London.[189]


    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman meets with US President Donald Trump at the White House on 14 March 2018

    Saudi Arabia under King Salman has adopted a more assertive foreign policy, particularly reflected in the country's intervention in Yemen in 2015 and its involvement in Lebanon in 2017. This has continued with the June 2017 appointment of Mohammad bin Salman as Crown Prince, who has been considered the power behind the throne for years.[190][191][192] The Crown Prince has referred to Iran, Turkey, and Islamic extremist groups as a "triangle of evil," and compared Supreme Leader Khamenei to Adolf Hitler.[193][194] The populist, anti-Iranian rhetoric comes at a time of uncertainty over potential fallout from Mohammad bin Salman's consolidation of power, and he has used the rivalry as a means to strengthen Saudi nationalism despite the country's domestic challenges.[148]

    As part of the Saudi Vision 2030 plan, Mohammad bin Salman is pursuing American investment to aid efforts to diversify Saudi Arabia's economy away from oil.[195][194] The reforms also include moving the country away from the Sahwa movement, which the Crown Prince discussed in 2017: "What happened in the last 30 years is not Saudi Arabia. What happened in the region in the last 30 years is not the Middle East. After the Iranian revolution in 1979, people wanted to copy this model in different countries, one of them is Saudi Arabia. We didn't know how to deal with it. And the problem spread all over the world. Now is the time to get rid of it."[196]

    Both Israel and Saudi Arabia supported the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.[195][197] In anticipation of the withdrawal, Iran indicated it would continue to pursue closer ties to Russia and China, with Ayatollah Khamenei stating in February 2018: "In foreign policy, the top priorities for us today include preferring East to West."[198] The unilateral decision by the United States drew concerns of increased tensions with Russia and China, both of which are parties to the nuclear agreement.[197] It also heightened tensions in the Middle East, raising the risk of a larger military conflict breaking out involving Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Iran.[199][200]

    The United States reinstated sanctions against Iran in August 2018 despite opposition from European allies.[201] The Trump administration also pushed for a military alliance with Sunni Arab states to act as a bulwark against Iran. The plan in consideration would establish a "Middle East Strategic Alliance" with six GCC states in addition to Jordan and Egypt.[202]

    The assassination of Jamal Khashoggi prompted international backlash against Saudi Arabia and Mohammad bin Salman.[203] The Trump administration issued a statement reiterating its support for Saudi Arabia and blaming Iran for the war in Yemen.[204] The United States Senate responded to the president by passing bipartisan resolutions condemning the assassination and voting to end United States aid to Saudi Arabia for the war in Yemen, though the measures were considered largely symbolic.[205]

    2019–2021 Persian Gulf crisis[edit]

    Military tensions between Iran and the United States escalated in 2019 amid a series of confrontations involving the US, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman took place in May and June.[206][207] In the wake of growing tensions, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated that Iran sought good relations with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and their allies, and called on them to end their dispute with Qatar.[208]

    In September 2019 a drone attack was launched on the Saudi Aramco oil processing facility in Abqaiq and Khurais oil field in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The attack knocked out half of the country's oil supply.[209] Although the Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo alleged that Iran was behind the attack, a charge which Iran denied.[210] Saudi Arabia and the US were reportedly investigating whether the attacks involved cruise missiles launched from Iran or Iraq. US officials had previously concluded that the attack on the East-West pipeline was launched by Iranian-backed militias in southern Iraq, despite Houthi rebels also claiming responsibility.[211] On 16 September, the US told Saudi Arabia that it had concluded that Iran was a staging ground for the September attack. The US raised the prospect of a joint retaliatory strike on Iran, an action which would potentially broaden into a regional conflict.[212] Saudi Arabia said its investigation was ongoing, but officials alleged that Iranian weapons were used in the strikes and that the attacks were not launched from Yemen. The claims were made without supporting evidence.[213] Iran's Hassan Rouhani, after the attack on Aramco, claimed that Saudi Arabia should take it as a warning to stop its intervention in Yemen. The Saudi-led intervention has led to the deaths of more than thousands to date.[214]

    On 3 January 2020, the US launched an airstrike on a convoy near Baghdad International Airport that killed multiple passengers, including Iranian Major General and IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.[215] The military action came shortly after pro-Iran protesters and Iraqi militiamen attacked the US embassy in Baghdad on 31 December 2019 in response to US airstrikes targeting Iran-backed militia.[216] The airstrike was seen as a major escalation of tensions, and the government of Iran vowed revenge in response.[217] Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the attack "an extremely dangerous and foolish escalation" and released a statement saying that "the brutality and stupidity of American terrorist forces in assassinating Commander Soleimani... will undoubtedly make the tree of resistance in the region and the world more prosperous."[218]

    Involved parties[edit]

    Iranian supporters and proxies[edit]


    Iranian-supported Liwa Fatemiyoun fighters during the Palmyra offensive in Syria in December 2016

    Syria under Bashar al-Assad has been a strategic ally to both Iranian and Russian interests. Since 2011, the year the civil war broke out, Iran and its allies, namely Russia (in 2015), Armenia (2015), Hezbollah (2011), Venezuela (supporting since 2013), China (supporting since 2011), Iraq (2016), and Algeria (supporting since 2012) have supported or intervened on Bashar al-Assad's side. However, Iran, Russia, Iraq, and Hezbollah, along with other Iraqi militias, have been the ones that mainly intervened and brought large number of troops. Syria has in turn, supported Iran and its allies in their affairs, including Libya, Yemen, and Armenia/Azerbaijan.


    Hamas has been allies of Iran, Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies and allies.[7][219][220][221][222]


    Iran and its allies have been allegedly been support the Houthis. (including Hezbollah, Qatar, North Korea, Iraq, Russia, Venezuela, and Oman even though Oman claims to be neutral) However, it has almost never been at 'official' support.[223][224][225][226][227][228][229][9][230][231][232][233][234][235][236]


    Hezbollah is one of the main groups in the Middle East to be described as an 'Iranian proxy'.[237] Hezbollah fights alongside Iranian troops in Syria and supports the Houthis.[238][239][240]

    Iraqi militias[edit]

    Various Iraqi groups, many of them as part of the Popular Mobilization Forces, have been described as Iranian proxies.[241][242]

    Saudi Arabian supporters and proxies[edit]

    Arab League[edit]

    Gulf Cooperation Council[edit]

    The Gulf Cooperation Council, an alliance of Sunni Arab States of the Gulf region including Saudi Arabia, has often been described as a Saudi headed alliance to counter Iran, which engaged pro-Saudi interests in Bahrain.[243]


    Bahrain is a major ally to Saudi interests, and a major member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Bahrain is a member of the Saudi coalition against the Houthis. However, Bahrain's population is somewhere between 70-85% Shia, and has led to protests, of which, the most notable was the 2011 protests, which were suppressed by the Peninsular Shield Force.


    Kuwait is yet another major Saudi ally in the Gulf, as it participates in major interventions, such as in Yemen and Syria. When Kuwait was invaded by Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the rest of Gulf Countries except Iran intervened. However, it didn't sever ties with Qatar in 2017, unlike the rest of the GCC except Oman. Kuwait, along with Oman, the United States, and Lebanon, mediated the Qatar diplomatic crisis.


    Oman is yet another major ally with Saudi Arabia. However, Oman doesn't perceive Iran as a threat, and had normal bilateral relations with them, unlike Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Oman is also neutral with Syrian, Yemeni, and Qatari conflicts/crisises. However, unnamed officials allege that Oman secretly support the Houthi rebels in Yemen.


    Qatar–Saudi Arabia relations have been strained since the beginning of the Arab Spring.[244] Qatar has been a focus of controversy in the Saudi-Iranian rivalry due to Saudi Arabia's longstanding concern about the country's relationship with Iran and Iranian-backed militant groups.[245]

    In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, the Maldives, Mauritania, Sudan, Senegal, Djibouti, Comoros, Jordan, the Tobruk-based Libyan government, and the Hadi-led Yemeni government severed diplomatic relations with Qatar and blocked their airspace and sea routes, in addition to Saudi Arabia blocking the only land crossing. The reasons cited were Qatar's relations with Iran, Al-Jazeera's coverage of other GCC states and Egypt, and Qatar's alleged support of Islamist groups.[246][247] Qatar was also expelled from the anti-Houthi coalition.[248] Qatar's defense minister Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah called the blockade akin to a bloodless declaration of war, and Qatar's finance minister Ali Sharif Al Emadi stated that Qatar was rich enough to withstand the blockade.[249][250] As for 2020, the blockaded continues at work by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt; while other countries mentioned above had rebuilt its relations with Qatar.

    The bloc sought a guarantee that Qatar will in the future align in all matters with other Gulf states, discuss all of its decisions with them, and provide regular reports on its activity (monthly for the first year, quarterly for the second, and annually for the following ten years). They also demanded the deportation of all political refugees who live in Qatar to their countries of origin, freezing their assets, providing any desired information about their residency, movements, and finances, and revoking their Qatari citizenship if naturalized. They also demanded that Qatar be forbidden from granting citizenship to any additional fugitives.[251][252] Upon Qatar's rejection of these demands, the countries involved announced that the blockade would remain in place until Qatar changed its policies.[253][254] On 24 August 2017, Qatar announced that they would restore full diplomatic relations with Iran.[255]

    Saudi Arabia, and other nations, restored bilateral relations with Qatar on January 5, 2020.

    However, Qatar, has almost always been pro-Turkey, as Qatar sought Turkish assistance during their diplomatic crisis. They support Syrian and Libyan rebels, but that includes terrorist group like Al-Qaeda in Syria, Grey Wolves, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and allegedly al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. This is why Saudi Arabia and its allies have mainly been in a conflict. However, Qatar still is an ally of the United States, which is a major factor to the Saudi-Iranian proxy conflict.

    People's Mujahedin of Iran[edit]

    MEK, a long existing rebel Iranian group has received an increasing support from Saudi Arabia.[15][16]

    Kurdish insurgents[edit]

    Saudi Arabia has allegedly provided support to the Kurdish militants within the KDPI and PAK through its consulate in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraqi Kurdistan.[256] Saudi Arabia and the UAE has also supported the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, as part of CJTF-OIR.[257]


    Due to Albania's decision to welcome the MEK to take refuge in the country, tensions between Iran and Albania increased. Since 2018, Albania has accused Iran of hounding Iranian dissidents and has expelled several Iranian diplomats.[258] In January 2020, following the death of Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian government lashed out Albania for hosting MEK members and Iran has increased cyberattacks and agent hunting on Iranian dissidents against Albania.[259] Saudi Arabia, in response, announced its support for Albania in its effort against Iran.[260]

    Jaish ul-Adl[edit]

    The rebel group Jaish ul-Adl, active in the Sistan and Baluchestan region of Iran, was accused by Iranian authorities of receiving Saudi support.[20]


    The speaker of Iran's parliament, Ali Larijani, stated that Saudi Arabia gave "strategic" intelligence information to Israel during the 2006 Lebanon War.[261] In May 2018, Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman supported greater discussion between Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, stating "It's time for the Middle East to [...] have an axis of moderate countries," opposed to the network of Iranian allies and proxies.[199] As of 2018, several sources described alleged intelligence ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel as a "covert alliance", with a joint interest to counter Iran in the region.[262] The New York Times remarked that such cooperation was made more difficult by controversy over Israel's attitude towards Palestinians.[263]Although Israel supports Saudi Arabia, there relations are not strong due to Israel-Palestine Conflict.

    United States[edit]

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced the attacks on the Saudi oil industry, on 14 September 2019, as an “act of war”. President Donald Trump called for an increase in sanctions against Iran opposing the strikes.[264] President Trump has approved the deployment of additional U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates following the attack on Saudi oil facilities that the United States has blamed on Iran.[265]


    Although most European countries, including European Union, have largely stayed neutral, several European nations have become more antagonistic against Iran, in particular its proxies. Germany and Lithuania have become the first EU nations to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.[266][267] Serbia, a major ally of Russia, and Kosovo, following the normalization agreements in 2020 (in which Russia supported), also designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group as a result of a US brokered deal (Kosovo had designated Hezbollah before the agreement).[268]



    Flag of the Saudi-backed Tahrir al-Sham rebel group in Syria.[22]




    Other involved parties[edit]


    The Turkish involvement in this conflict has been by large, exploiting the difficulties of both sides to reinstate their neo-Ottomanism, especially under the Erdoğan Presidency, who is determined to begin the project in 2023.[269] Turkey has long seen Iran's expansions as threats but also perceived Saudi Arabia's influence with a similar reception, and it seeking to build itself as an alternative replacement to both Saudi and Iranian influences, in a degree.[270]

    However, the growing Turkish military, political and economic expansions have not left without fear from the Saudi and Iranian side altogether. Iran considers Turkish military adventurism in Syria and its growing encounter against Iran in the Levant and Iraq as a challenge, not to mention its good relationship with Azerbaijan, which is very antagonistic to Iran. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has also begun a systematic campaign to rewrite the history, changing the Ottoman Caliphate into the occupier of Arabia; while has also partially financed for other megaprojects to counter the growing Turkish presence in Qatar, Sudan, Maghreb, Somalia, Kuwait and Oman.[271]


    Qatar–Saudi Arabia relations have been strained since the beginning of the Arab Spring.[244] Qatar has been a focus of controversy in the Saudi-Iranian rivalry due to Saudi Arabia's longstanding concern about the country's relationship with Iran and Iranian-backed militant groups.[245]

    In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, the Maldives, Mauritania, Sudan, Senegal, Djibouti, Comoros, Jordan, the Tobruk-based Libyan government, and the Hadi-led Yemeni government severed diplomatic relations with Qatar and blocked their airspace and sea routes, in addition to Saudi Arabia blocking the only land crossing. The reasons cited were Qatar's relations with Iran, Al-Jazeera's coverage of other GCC states and Egypt, and Qatar's alleged support of Islamist groups.[246][247] Qatar was also expelled from the anti-Houthi coalition.[248] Qatar's defense minister Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah called the blockade akin to a bloodless declaration of war, and Qatar's finance minister Ali Sharif Al Emadi stated that Qatar was rich enough to withstand the blockade.[249][250] As for 2020, the blockaded continues at work by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt; while other countries mentioned above had rebuilt its relations with Qatar. The blockade ended in 2021 when both four countries and Qatar agreed to restore relations.[272]

    The bloc sought a guarantee that Qatar will in the future align in all matters with other Gulf states, discuss all of its decisions with them, and provide regular reports on its activity (monthly for the first year, quarterly for the second, and annually for the following ten years). They also demanded the deportation of all political refugees who live in Qatar to their countries of origin, freezing their assets, providing any desired information about their residency, movements, and finances, and revoking their Qatari citizenship if naturalized. They also demanded that Qatar be forbidden from granting citizenship to any additional fugitives.[251][252] Upon Qatar's rejection of these demands, the countries involved announced that the blockade would remain in place until Qatar changed its policies.[253][254] On 24 August 2017, Qatar announced that they would restore full diplomatic relations with Iran.[255]


    Russia has been aligned with Iran and Syria for years. It intervened in Syria to provide support for the Assad government and to target rebel groups, working together with Iran and using Iranian air bases to stage air strikes.[273] It also joined Iran, Iraq, and Syria in forming a joint intelligence-sharing coalition as part of the fight against ISIL.[274] The alliance coincided with the US-led coalition created a year earlier to fight ISIL. The competing military actions were seen as part of a larger proxy conflict between the United States and Russia.[275][276][277] However, Russia's tie with Saudi Arabia has become increasingly warmed since 2010s despite numerous differences, thus sometimes affected Iran's stance on relations with Russia.[278]

    In the past, Saudi Arabia backed Chechen and Dagestani fighters as well as Arab Mujahedeen in the North Caucasus during the First and Second Chechen Civil Wars in the 1990s, in which Russia has fought against them.[279] In recent years however, Saudi Arabia has shifted its diplomacy to become friendlier to Russia, with King Salman became the first Saudi head of state to visit Russia, heralding possible political change.[280] Since then, Saudi Arabia and Russia have started to support each other in various conflicts in Syria and Libya, with Saudi Arabia supported Russian intervention in Syria, while Russia and Saudi Arabia have together backed Khalifa Haftar's forces in Libya.[281][282] In addition, Saudi Arabia and Russia are also becoming more antagonistic to Iranian ambitions in the Middle East, as revealed by their secret cooperation alongside Israel and Jordan against Iran.[283]

    Likewise, since late 2010s, sign of Iranian–Russian friction emerged, following Iran's attempt to turn Bashar al-Assad to align with the Islamist ideology of the Iranian regime which opposed to Russia's desire for a secular state.[284] Russia's attitude toward Iran is also becoming more negative due to Iranian desire to control the Middle East, resulting in growing cooperation with Saudi Arabia.[283]


    Oman is a member of the GCC and thus, maintains a close relationship with Saudi Arabia. However, unlike the majority of GCC countries, Oman doesn't perceive Iran as a threat. Oman has long promoted itself as the main stabilizing force amidst the intensified Iranian–Saudi conflict and often prefers a diplomatic solution to end the proxy wars.[285]


    Pakistan is a major partner of Saudi Arabia, but is also a neighbor of Iran, sharing historical ties as well. Prior to 1979, the three countries formed a moderate relationship and acted as responsible Muslim states. However, since 1979, Pakistan has fallen into sectarian discord due to growing attempt by Iran and Saudi Arabia to spread influence to the country, with Pakistan having a balance of Sunni and Shi'a Muslims.[286]

    Pakistan's relations with Saudi Arabia has been historically strong, and often Pakistan has feared Iran is trying to recruit its large Shi'a population to serve for Iran's military adventures, given by increasing number of vanishing Shi'as in Pakistan.[287] Its link with Iran is also marred with a number of problems regarding not just Shia issue, but also due to conflict in Afghanistan, with Iran-backed proxies have fought against Pakistan and its ally Taliban, further strengthens Pakistan's relations with Saudi Arabia.[288] However, Pakistan has refrained from criticizing Iran, but rather seeks to preserve the relations, given its long historical relationship with Iran. Pakistan has backed Iran on its effort to maintain border security in the restive Balochistan region,[289] and have cooperated against the Soviets in the 1980s.[290]

    Pakistan prefers to remain neutral in Saudi-Iran rivalry. It remained neutral during the 2017 Qatar-Gulf crisis.[291][292][293] In 2019, Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan, during a visit to Tehran, said that he was trying promote talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia to defuse the tension between the two countries.[294]

    Involvement in regional conflicts[edit]

    Syrian Civil War[edit]

    Syria has been a major theater in the proxy conflict throughout its ongoing civil war, which began in 2011. Iran and the GCC states have provided varying degrees of military and financial support to opposing sides, with Iran backing the government and Saudi Arabia supporting rebel militants. Syria is an important part of Iran's sphere of influence, and the government under Bashar al-Assad has long been a major ally. During the early stages of the Arab Spring, Supreme Leader Khamenei initially expressed support for the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, characterizing them as an "Islamic awakening" akin to its own revolution in 1979. When protests broke out in Syria, Iran changed its position and condemned them, comparing the uprising to its own presidential election protests in 2009 and accusing the United States and Israel of being behind the unrest.[295]

    The war threatens Iran's position, and Saudi Arabia and its allies have sided with Sunni rebels in part to weaken Iran. For years Iranian forces have been involved on the ground, with soldiers in Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps facing heavy casualties.[296] In 2014, with no end in sight to the conflict, Iran increased its ground support for the Syrian Army, providing elite forces, intelligence gathering, and training. Iran also backs pro-Assad Hezbollah fighters.[297] Although Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed in 2015 to participate in peace talks in Vienna in participation with United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the talks ultimately failed.[298]

    Saudi Arabia countered Russia's intervention in Syria by increasing its support for the rebels and supplying American-made anti-tank TOW missiles, a move which slowed initial progress made by Russian and Syrian forces.[299]

    Yemeni Civil War[edit]

    An airstrike in Sana'a by a Saudi-led coalition on 11 May 2015

    Yemen has been called one of the major fronts in the conflict as a result of the revolution and subsequent civil war.[300][301] Yemen had for years been within the Saudi sphere of influence. The decade-long Houthi insurgency in Yemen stoked tensions with Iran, with accusations of covert support for the rebels. A 2015 UN report alleged that Iran provided the Houthi rebels with money, training, and arms shipments beginning in 2009.[302] However, the degree of support has been subject to debate, and accusations of greater involvement have been denied by Iran.[303][304][305] The 2014–2015 coup d'état was viewed by Saudi leadership as an immediate threat, and as an opportunity for Iran to gain a foothold in the region. In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states, including all GCC members except Oman, intervened and launched airstrikes and a ground offensive in the country, declaring the entire Saada Governorate a military target and imposing a naval blockade.[306]

    The United States intervened in October 2016 after missiles were fired at a US warship, which was in place to protect oil shipments along the sea lane passing through the Mandeb Strait. The US blamed the rebels and responded by targeting radar sites with missile strikes along the Red Sea coast. In response, rebels called the strikes evidence of American support for the Saudi campaign.[307][308]

    Iraqi Civil War[edit]

    While the majority of Muslims in Iraq are Shia, the country has been ruled for decades by Sunni-dominated governments under the Ottoman Empire, the British-installed Hashemites, and the Ba'athists. Under the rule of Saddam Hussein, Iraq was hostile to both Iran and Saudi Arabia and acted as a counterbalancing regional power. The American-led invasion in 2003 caused a power vacuum in the region. With the antagonistic Ba'athist regime removed, Iran sought a more friendly Shia-dominated government and supported sympathetic rebel factions as part of an effort to undermine the coalition, which Iran feared would install a government hostile to its interests.[309]

    Saudi Arabia remained more passive during the occupation of Iraq, taking caution to preserve its relations with the United States by avoiding any direct support of Sunni insurgent groups. Riyadh supported the Bush administration's commitment to stay in the country, as it limited Iran's influence.[310] The edicts issued in May 2003 by Coalition Provisional Authority Administrator Paul Bremer to exclude members of the Ba'ath Party from the new Iraqi government and to disband the Iraqi Army undermined the occupation effort. The orders empowered various insurgent factions and weakened the new government's functional capabilities, leaving Iraq vulnerable to future instability.[311]

    Following the United States withdrawal from Iraq in December 2011, the country drifted further into Iran's sphere of influence. The instability that resulted from the Iraqi Civil War and the rise of ISIL threatened the existence of the Iraqi regime and led to an Iranian intervention in 2014. Iran mobilized Shia militia groups to halt and ultimately push back the advancing Sunni insurgency,[312] though the resurgence of ISIL in Iraq remains more than a possibility.[313]

    The Iraqi government remains particularly influenced by Iran, and consults with it on most matters.[314] As of 2018 Iran has become Iraq's top trading partner, with an annual turnover of approximately $12 billion USD compared to the US$6 billion in trade between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In addition to fostering economic ties, Tehran furthered its influence by aiding the Iraqi government in its fight against the push for independence in Iraqi Kurdistan, which is mainly Sunni.[315] Saudi Arabia has responded by strengthening its ties to the Kurdistan Regional Government, seeing it as a barrier to the expansion of Iranian influence in the region, while also adopting a soft power approach to improve relations with the Iraqi government.[316][317]

    Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, former Ba'athist official and leader of the Naqshbandi Army insurgent group, has repeatedly praised Saudi efforts to constrain Iranian clout in Iraq.[318][319]

    Recently, Saudi Arabia has developed a close relationship with Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist Movement and the Peace Companies militia as well as a critic of both U.S. and Iranian involvement.[320]

    Bahraini uprising[edit]

    Saudi Arabia and Iran have sought to extend their influence in Bahrain for decades. While the majority of Muslims in Bahrain are Shia, the country is ruled by the Sunni Al Khalifa family - who are widely viewed as being subservient to the Saudi government. Iran claimed sovereignty over Bahrain until 1970, when Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi abandoned claims after negotiations with the United Kingdom.[321] The Iranian Revolution led to resumed interest in Bahraini affairs. In 1981, the front organization Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain led a failed coup attempt to install a Shia theocratic regime led by Hadi al-Modarresi. Since then, the government has accused Iran of supporting terrorist plots within its borders.[322]

    Sunni states have long feared that Iran might stir up unrest among regional Shia minority populations, especially in Bahrain. Bahrain government's stability depends heavily on Saudi support. The island is connected to Saudi Arabia by the 25 kilometer King Fahd Causeway, and its proximity to Saudi Arabia's oil-rich, the Saudi Shia minority in Eastern Province is viewed by Riyadh as a security concern. Any political gains by the Shia in Bahrain are seen by the Saudis as gains for Iran.[323]

    In response to the Arab Spring in 2011, the GCC governments sought to maintain their power through social reform, economic handouts, and violent repression. Member states also distributed a share of their combined oil wealth to Bahrain and Oman to maintain stability.[324] Saudi-led GCC forces quickly intervened in support of the government of Bahraini to put down the anti-government uprising in Bahrain.

    The Bahraini government publicly blamed Iran for the protests, but an independent commission established by King Hamad rejected the claim, instead highlighting human rights abuses committed in the crackdown.[325][92] The protests, along with the Iran nuclear deal, strained Bahrain's relationship with the United States. Bahrain has sought closer ties with Russia as a result, but this has been limited due to Saudi Arabia's alliance with the US.[326]

    Following the onset of the Arab Winter, Bahrain accused Iran of orchestrating several domestic incidents as part of a campaign to destabilize the country. Tehran denied all allegations and accused the government of Bahrain of blaming its own internal problems on Iran after every incident.[186] In August 2015, authorities in Bahrain arrested five suspects over a bombing in Sitra. Officials linked the attacks to the Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah, although Iran denied any involvement.[327] In January 2016, Bahrain joined Saudi Arabia in cutting diplomatic ties with Tehran following the attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran.[328] In November 2017, Bahrain called an explosion on its main oil pipeline "terrorist sabotage" linked to Iran, drawing a rebuke from Tehran. Saudi Arabia also referred to the incident as an "attack on the pipeline".[186]

    Lebanese politics[edit]

    In 2008, Saudi Arabia proposed creating an Arab force backed by US and NATO air and sea power to intervene in Lebanon and destroy Iranian-backed Hezbollah, according to a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks. According to the cable Saudi argued that a Hezbollah victory against the Siniora government "combined with Iranian actions in Iraq and on the Palestinian front would be a disaster for the US and the entire region".

    In February 2016 Saudi Arabia banned their citizens from visiting Lebanon and suspended military aid due to possible Iranian influence and Lebanon's refusal to condemn the attack on Saudi embassy.[329][330] Furthermore, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates advised all their citizens not to travel to Lebanon and urged them to leave immediately.[331]

    Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned on 4 November 2017. The situation was seen as a power play by Saudi Arabia to increase its influence in Lebanon and counterbalance Iran's victories in Iraq and Syria.[332][333] In a televised speech from Saudi Arabia, Hariri criticized Hezbollah and blamed Iran for causing "disorder and destruction" in Lebanon. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah responded by accusing Hariri of resigning on Riyadh's orders.[334]

    War in Afghanistan[edit]

    The rivalry has contributed to the ongoing instability in Afghanistan. Afghanistan shares historical ties with Iran, but is strategically important to Saudi Arabia. After the Cold War, Saudi policy shifted from fighting the spread of communism to containing Iranian influence in South and Central Asia.[107]

    Saudi Arabia was one of three countries to officially recognize the Sunni Taliban government in 1996, along with its allies Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. During the Afghan Civil War, Iran and Saudi Arabia supported opposing militant factions. Iran assisted the Shia Hezb-e Wahdat, while Saudi Arabia provided financial support to the Wahhabist Ittihad-e Islami.[335]

    In 2001, the invasion of Afghanistan and the removal of the Taliban in the wake of the September 11 attacks benefited Iran, which had previously been on the brink of war with the group. The regime change removed Iran's primary threat along its eastern borders, and the removal of Saddam Hussein two years later further bolstered its position, allowing it to refocus its efforts on other areas, especially Syria and Yemen.[336] In the ensuing years, Iran sought to expand its influence over Afghanistan. It provided limited support to the Taliban as a potential means of increasing leverage with the Afghan central government and creating a deterrent to conflict with the United States, although the support waned amid growing backlash in Afghanistan against perceived Iranian interference.[337] Iran has also sought to expand soft influence by building pro-Iranian schools, mosques, and media centers, and by maintaining close ties with Afghanistan's Tajik and Hazara populations.[337]

    Pakistani sectarian violence[edit]

    Since the 1980s, Pakistan has been dealing with sporadic sectarian conflict, and the Muslim population is predominantly Sunni with about 10-15% Shia adherents.[338] The Saudi Arabia enjoys a strong public support from the county's conservative sphere and has occupied a unique statue in Pakistan's foreign policy stature.

    Pakistan is economically dependent on oil imports from Saudi Arabia whose its a key strategic ally but shares some historical cultural ties with Iran. The foreign employees Saudi oil industry from Pakistan plays a crucial role in Pakistan's economic stability who sends large remittances back home. The largest amount comes from the 1.5 million Pakistanis working in Saudi Arabia who sent home about US$5.5 billion in remittances in 2017.[339] There are also allegations of Saudi Arabia's financial grants to Pakistan's national laboratories that built Pakistan's nuclear weapons program.[340] The Saudi monarchy also views the Balochistan province of Pakistan as a potential means of stirring ethnic unrest in neighboring Iran, with its province of Sistan and Baluchestan.[341]

    In February 2018, Saudi Arabia, acting on behalf of the GCC, joined China and Turkey in opposing a US-led initiative to place Pakistan on an international terror-financing watch list through the Financial Action Task Force. This move came days after Prime Minister Imran Khan went onto to deploy ~1,000 military troops to the Gulf kingdoms for what it described as an "advisory mission."[339]

    At home, the Pakistani lawmakers have been levelling accusations at Iran of influencing Pakistani Shias to act as proxies to further Iranian interests in Pakistan. The Iranian government has been suspected of militarizing Shias amongst Pakistan's local population and promoting sectarian sentiments to further achieve its goals.[342] According to the Pakistani intelligence assessments, many Pakistani Shias have also been suspected of traveling to parts of the Middle East including Syria and Lebanon to fight on behalf of the Iranian government.[343][344][345]

    Nuclear programs of Iran and Saudi Arabia[edit]

    Although both Iran and Saudi Arabia signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1970 and 1988 respectively, a potential nuclear arms race has been a concern for years. Both governments claim that their programs are for peaceful purposes, but foreign governments and organizations have accused both of taking steps to obtain nuclear weapons capabilities.

    Iran's ongoing nuclear program began in the 1950s under the Shah in cooperation with the United States as part of the Atoms for Peace program. The cooperation continued until the Iranian Revolution in 1979.[346] Sanctions have been in place since then, and were expanded in 2006 with the passage of United Nation Security Council Resolution 1737 and Resolution 1696 in response to Iran's uranium enrichment program.

    Saudi Arabia has considered several options in response to the Iranian program: acquiring its own nuclear capability as a deterrent, entering into an alliance with an existing nuclear power, or pursuing a regional nuclear-weapon-free zone agreement.[347] It is believed that Saudi Arabia has been a major financier of Pakistan's integrated nuclear program since 1974, a project begun under former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. In 2003 it was reported that Saudi Arabia had taken the "strategic decision" to acquire "off-the-shelf" atomic weapons from Pakistan, according to senior American officials.[348] In 2003, The Washington Times reported that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had entered a secret agreement on nuclear cooperation to provide the Saudis with nuclear weapons technology in return for access to cheap oil for Pakistan.[349]

    Following several years of negotiations for a nuclear deal framework between Iran and the P5+1 countries, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed in 2015. The deal raised concerns for Saudi Arabia, which saw it as a step toward reducing Iran's international isolation and potentially exacerbating the proxy conflict.[350] However, Riyadh did not publicly denounce the deal at the time as Israel did.[351] In 2018, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman stated that Saudi Arabia would move to obtain nuclear weapons if Iran's program is successful.[352] He led a delegation to the United States to meet with Trump administration officials to discuss mutual concerns, including a potential US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement.[195] In April 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a televised speech accusing Iran of covertly continuing the AMAD Project in violation of the JCPOA.[353]

    President Trump announced on 8 May 2018 that the United States would unilaterally withdraw from the JCPOA and reinstate previous sanctions against Iran in addition to imposing new sanctions.[197] In anticipation of the decision, Iranian President Rouhani stated that Iran would remain in the deal if the remaining parties did the same, but was otherwise vague on how the country would respond to the US decision.[354]

    See also[edit]


    1. ^ Daoud, David (March 2015). "Meet the Proxies: How Iran Spreads Its Empire through Terrorist Militias". The Tower Magazine (24). Retrieved 18 August 2016.
    2. ^ Hashim, Ahmed Salah (29 January 2016), "Saudi-Iranian Rivalry and Conflict: Shia Province as Casus Belli?" (PDF), RSIS Commentary, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (22), retrieved 18 August 2016
    3. ^ Abedin, Mahan (26 October 2006). "Saudi Shi'ites: New light on an old divide". Asia Times. Archived from the original on 18 March 2017. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
    4. ^ Mashal, Mujib; Faizi, Fatima (11 November 2017). "Iran Sent Them to Syria. Now Afghan Fighters Are a Worry at Home". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
    5. ^ a b "Exclusive: Iran Steps up Support for Houthis in Yemen's War – Sources". U.S. News & World Report. 21 March 2017. Archived from the original on 22 March 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
    6. ^ Wess, Caleb (23 February 2018). "Bahraini militant group adopts IRGC branding". At the same time, Saraya al Ashtar reaffirmed its loyalty to the Islamic Republic of Iran. “We believe that the commander and ruler of the Islamic religion is the line of the two imams, Khomeini and Khamenei, which is in the original Muhammad approach in confronting the oppressors and fighting back against the tyrants,” the group’s statement reads.
    7. ^ a b Exclusive: Hamas Official Discusses Decline of Iranian Support
    8. ^ "Qatari Emir Calls for Promotion of Ties". Financial Tribune. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
    9. ^ a b "Mana'a and al-Ahmar received money from Gaddafi to shake security of KSA, Yemen". 4 September 2011. Archived from the original on 10 February 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
    10. ^ "Former Revolutionary Guards minister: Gaddafi supplied Iran with missiles, asked to target Saudi Arabia". MEHR.
    11. ^
    12. ^ "How friendship with Venezuela benefits Iran's isolated regime". Arab News. 30 January 2021.
    13. ^ "The UK Is Greenlighting Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia Again. That's a Travesty". Human Rights Watch. 15 July 2020. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
    14. ^ "Iran and the 'Old Enemy'". 1 January 2019.
    15. ^ a b Goulka, Jeremiah; Hansell, Lydia; Wilke, Elizabeth; Larson, Judith (2009). The Mujahedin-e Khalq in Iraq: a policy conundrum (PDF). RAND Corporation. ISBN 978-0-8330-4701-4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 February 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
    16. ^ a b Mousavian, Seyed Hossein (21 July 2016). "From Iran to Nice, We Must Confront All Terrorism to End Terrorism". Huffington Post. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
    17. ^ Karami, Arash (2 August 2016). "Were Saudis behind Abbas-MEK meeting?". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
    18. ^ Iddon, Paul (28 July 2016). "Erbil is not another front in the Saudi-Iran regional proxy war". Rudaw. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
    19. ^ Dehghanpisheh, Babak (4 September 2016). "To Iranian eyes, Kurdish unrest spells Saudi incitement". Reuters. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
    20. ^ a b Merat, Arron (28 March 2014). "Iran calls for return of abducted border guards held in Pakistan". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
    21. ^ "Lebanese Hezbollah: Ahvaz crime reaction to Resistance victories". Islamic Republic News Agency. 23 September 2018. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
    22. ^ a b c Kim Sengupta (12 May 2015). "Turkey and Saudi Arabia alarm the West by backing Islamist extremists the Americans had bombed in Syria". The Independent.
    23. ^ a b Dunne, Charles W. (26 June 2019). "Saudi-Emirati-Egyptian Alliance Steering US Middle East Policy". Retrieved 4 October 2021.
    24. ^
    25. ^
    26. ^ "Mideast tensions soar as Saudi Arabia rallies countries to cut ties with Iran". Archived from the original on 4 January 2016. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
    27. ^
    28. ^ "Tension Mounts between Iran and Mauritania".
    29. ^ Irish, John (13 November 2013). "Syrian Kurdish leader claims military gains against Islamists". Reuters. Archived from the original on 14 November 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2017. Muslim said the PYD had received aid, money and weapons from the Iraq-based Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan...
    30. ^ "الحشد الشعبي العراقي (يقاتل) إلى جانب الأسد في سوريا". دنيا الوطن.
    31. ^ Kelley, Michael (6 March 2013). "It Looks Like Iraq Has Joined Assad's Side In The Syrian War". Business Insider. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
    32. ^ Schwirtz, Michael (27 February 2018). "U.N. Links North Korea to Syria's Chemical Weapons Program". The New York Times.
    33. ^ a b Van Wilgenburg, Wladimir (12 June 2015). "The Rise of Jaysh al-Fateh in Northern Syria". Terrorism Monitor. Vol. XIII no. 12. Jamestown Foundation. p. 3.
    34. ^ a b Porter, Gareth (28 May 2015). "Gulf allies and 'Army of Conquest'". Al-Ahram Weekly.
    35. ^ a b Jihadis are becoming Turkey's permanent Proxy force. Israel Hayom
    36. ^ a b "Are Turkey and Islamist HTS group in Syria's Idlib allies?". Ahval News.
    37. ^ a b "It's time to strengthen relations with the Syrian Interim Government". It’s time to strengthen relations with the Syrian Interim Government.
    38. ^ "Who Does U.S. Support in Syria? Some Former Allies Are Helping Iran, Others are Attacking with Turkey's Backing".
    39. ^ Maclean, William; Finn, Tom (26 November 2016). "Qatar will help Syrian rebels even if Trump ends U.S. role". Reuters. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
    40. ^ Roula Khalaf and Abigail Fielding Smith (16 May 2013). "Qatar bankrolls Syrian revolt with cash and arms". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2013.(subscription required)
    41. ^ "Israel Just Admitted Arming anti-Assad Syrian Rebels. Big Mistake".
    42. ^ Sherlock, Ruth (27 November 2011). "Libya to arm syrian rebels". The Sydney Morning Herald. Misrata. Associated Press. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
    43. ^ Libyan fighters join "free Syrian army" forces. Al Bawaba (29 November 2011). Retrieved on 24 March 2012.
    44. ^ "Victory for Assad looks increasingly likely as world loses interest in Syria". The Guardian. 31 August 2017. Returning from a summit in the Saudi capital last week, opposition leaders say they were told directly by the foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, that Riyadh was disengaging.
    45. ^ "Jordan confirms its planes joined strikes on IS in Syria". Jordan Times. 23 September 2014. Archived from the original on 19 March 2015. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
    46. ^ "Hollande confirms French delivery of arms to Syrian rebels". AFP. 21 August 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
    47. ^ "The Southern Front". Stanford University. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
    48. ^ "Exclusive: Iran steps up weapons supply to Yemen's Houthis via Oman – officials". Reuters. 20 October 2016. Archived from the original on 10 November 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
    49. ^ "North Korea's Balancing Act in the Persian Gulf". 17 August 2015.
    50. ^ "Secret UN report reveals North Korea attempts to supply Houthis with weapons". 4 August 2018.
    51. ^ الحوثيين, مأرب برس-الحكومة العراقية تعد معسكرات لتدريب. "الحكومة العراقية تعد معسكرات لتدريب الحوثيين". مأرب برس. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
    52. ^ Misto, Mohamad; Emre Özcan, Ethem. "Iran boosting Yemeni Houthis with Syrian fighters: Local sources". Anadolu Agency. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
    53. ^ "Syrian regime coordinates military training with Yemeni Houthis". ARA News. 9 March 2015. Archived from the original on 13 March 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
    54. ^ "How did Qatar back the Houthis in Yemen?". EgyptToday. 3 August 2017. Following the same steps that Qatar has taken to exacerbate the Palestinian fragmentation by supporting Hamas to create the “Gaza State”, Qatar supports Houthi militias to aggravate the Yemeni division.
    55. ^ Carlsen, Laura (3 December 2015). "Mercenaries in Yemen—the U.S. Connection".
    56. ^ "Almost 100 Sudanese mercenaries killed by Yemen defence – Yemen Resistance Watch".
    57. ^ "UAE Outsourcing Yemen Aggression from Ugandan Mercenaries: Report". 16 April 2018.
    58. ^ a b c d e f g Al-Haj, Ahmed (26 March 2015). "Saudi Arabia launches airstrikes in Yemen, targeting rebel-held military installations". Associated Press. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
    59. ^ "Child soldiers from Darfur fighting at front line of war in Yemen, returned soldiers say". The Independent. 29 December 2018.
    60. ^ "Senegal to send 2,100 troops to join Saudi-led alliance". Reuters. 4 May 2015. Archived from the original on 5 May 2015. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
    61. ^ "US special forces secretly deployed to assist Saudi Arabia in Yemen conflict". The Independent. 3 May 2018.
    62. ^ "In Yemen's "60 minutes" moment, no mention that the U.S. is fueling the conflict". The Intercept. 20 November 2017.
    63. ^ "Report: Saudi-UAE coalition 'cut deals' with al-Qaeda in Yemen". Al-Jazeera. 6 August 2018.
    64. ^ "US allies, Al Qaeda battle rebels in Yemen". Fox News. 7 August 2018.
    65. ^ "Allies cut deals with al Qaeda in Yemen to serve larger fight with Iran". San Francisco Chronicle. 6 August 2018.
    66. ^ "A killer or a hero? Nephew of former Yemeni president divides Taiz". Middle East Eye. 16 April 2018. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
    67. ^ "Is Tareq Saleh making a comeback to battle Yemen's Houthis with UAE-funded militias?". The New Arab. 19 April 2018. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
    68. ^ "Dışişleri Bakanlığı, Husi terörüne karşı Yemen'e destek verdi". Türkiye (in Turkish). 26 March 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
    69. ^ "Breaking Yemen's Stalemate". Stratfor. 29 March 2017. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
    70. ^ "NCRI Claims to Have Intelligence Detailing Iran's Attack on Saudi Arabia". 30 September 2019.
    71. ^ Hamas supports military operation for political legitimacy in Yemen, (29 March 2015). "Hamas supports military operation for political legitimacy in Yemen".
    72. ^ Joyner, Alfred (4 January 2016). "Iran vs Saudi Arabia: The Middle East cold war explained". International Business Times. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
    73. ^ a b Poole, Thom (20 October 2017). "Iran and Saudi Arabia's great rivalry explained". BBC News. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
    74. ^ Ahmed, Zahid Shahab; Akbarzadeh, Shahram (16 June 2020). "Pakistan caught between Iran and Saudi Arabia". Contemporary South Asia. 28 (3): 336–350. doi:10.1080/09584935.2020.1779181. S2CID 221822752.
    75. ^ Bowen, Jeremy (7 July 2014). "The fearsome Iraqi militia vowing to vanquish Isis". BBC News. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
    76. ^ "قائد النجباء يكشف مخططات السبهان للعراق". | قناة الکوثر.
    77. ^ "Al-Maliki Accuses Saudi Arabia of Supporting Terrorism". AlahedNews. 22 April 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
    78. ^ Pileggi, Tamar (15 March 2016). "Iran denies top general called Saudi, not Israel, its enemy". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
    79. ^ "Iran Guards head calls Saudi Arabia 'terrorist state'". The Times of Israel. 4 July 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
    80. ^ "Saudi Arabia, Zionist regime behind resignation of Lebanese PM". Mehr News Agency. 5 November 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
    81. ^ "State Department Terrorist Designation of Qassim Abdullah Ali Ahmed, AKA Qassim al-Muamen". (Press release). United States Department of State. 13 August 2018. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
    82. ^الولائي-يدين-الاعتداءات-الجبانة-من-ال/
    83. ^ "بالفيديو .. تصريح ناري لأبو مهدي المهندس حول السعودية والإمارات!". | قناة الکوثر.
    84. ^ "PROFILE: New Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef". Al Arabiya English. 21 June 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
    85. ^ Frantzman, Seth J. (8 November 2017). "Riyadh's 'anti-Hezbollah minister'". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
    86. ^ تعيين المقدم عبيد فاضل الشمري بدلًا من السهيان (in Arabic). 15 December 2015. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
    87. ^ Tawfeeq, Mohammed (27 February 2018). "Saudi Arabia replaces military commanders in late-night reshuffle". CNN. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
    88. ^ "BDF Commander-in-Chief meets new Joint Peninsula Shield Forces Commander". Bahrain News Agency. 21 May 2014. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
    89. ^ Henderson, Simon (21 February 2014). "Saudi Arabia's Domestic and Foreign Intelligence Challenges". Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
    90. ^ Lippman, Thomas W. (16 April 2014). "Saudi Intel Chief Prince Bandar Is Out, But Is He Really Out?". Middle East Institute. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
    91. ^ Al Saeri, Muqbil (March 2011). "A talk with Peninsula Shield force commander Mutlaq bin Salem Al Azima". Asharq Al-Awsat. Archived from the original on 29 March 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2011.
    92. ^ a b Bronner, Ethan; Slackman, Michael (14 March 2011). "Saudi Troops Enter Bahrain to Help Put Down Unrest". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
    93. ^ a b Gause III, F. Gregory (July 2014). "Beyond Sectarianism: The New Middle East Cold War" (PDF). Brookings Doha Center Analysis Paper. Brookings Institution (11): 1, 3. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
    94. ^ Rubin, Jennifer (6 January 2016). "The Iran-Saudi Arabia proxy war". The Washington Post. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
    95. ^ Gerges, Fawaz (15 December 2013). "Saudi Arabia and Iran must end their proxy war in Syria". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
    96. ^ Rogin, Josh (4 November 2015). "Iran and Saudi Arabia Clash Inside Syria Talks". Bloomberg View. Retrieved 7 March 2018. ...Iran and Saudi Arabia to discuss anything civilly, much less come to an agreement on Syria, where both sides have proxy forces in the fight.
    97. ^ Loewenstein, Jennifer (2 October 2015). "Heading Toward a Collision: Syria, Saudi Arabia and Regional Proxy Wars". CounterPunch. Retrieved 26 February 2018. Saudi Arabian and Iranian-backed factions are contributing to the proxy war in Syria...
    98. ^ Tisdall, Simon (25 March 2015). "Iran-Saudi proxy war in Yemen explodes into region-wide crisis". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
    99. ^ Mabon, Simon. "The Battle for Bahrain: Iranian-Saudi Rivalry". Middle East Policy Council. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
    100. ^ Ghattas, Kim (20 May 2016). "Iran-Saudi tensions simmer in Lebanon". BBC News. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
    101. ^ Kenyon, Peter (17 June 2017). "Qatar's Crisis With Saudi Arabia And Gulf Neighbors Has Decades-Long Roots". NPR. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
    102. ^ Thurston, Alex (31 October 2016). "How far does Saudi Arabia's influence go? Look at Nigeria". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
    103. ^ a b Oladipo, Tomi (7 January 2016). "Saudi Arabia and Iran fight for Africa's loyalty". BBC News. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
    104. ^ Panda, Ankit (22 January 2016). "Why Is Pakistan Interested in Brokering Peace Between Iran and Saudi Arabia?". The Diplomat. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
    105. ^ Sewag, Zulqarnain (30 April 2015). "Sectarian Rise in Pakistan: Role of Saudi Arabia and Iran". 1 (3). Archived from the original on 15 February 2017. Retrieved 11 July 2016 – via Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
    106. ^ Seerat, Rustam Ali (14 January 2016). "Iran and Saudi Arabia in Afghanistan". The Diplomat. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
    107. ^ a b c Mir, Haroun (6 April 2015). "Afghanistan stuck between Iran and Saudi Arabia". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
    108. ^ "Morocco severs ties with Iran over support for West Sahara Polisario front: official". Reuters. 1 May 2018. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
    109. ^ El Harmouzi, Nouh. "Repercussions of the Saudi-Iranian Conflict on North Africa". The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
    110. ^ Shankar, Abha (6 October 2016). "The Saudi-Iran Rivalry and Sectarian Strife in South Asia". The Diplomat. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
    111. ^ Peyrouse, Sebastien (6 April 2014). "Iran's Growing Role in Central Asia? Geopolitical, Economic and Political Profit and Loss Account". Al Jazeera Center for Studies. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
    112. ^ "Balkans Risks Being Caught in Crossfire Over Middle East". Balkan Insight. 24 January 2020. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
    113. ^ Dorsey, James (19 February 2018). "Expanding Regional Rivalries: Saudi Arabia and Iran battle it out in Azerbaijan". International Policy Digest. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
    114. ^ See:
    115. ^ a b Fathollah-Nejad, Ali (25 October 2017). "The Iranian–Saudi Hegemonic Rivalry". Belfer Center. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
    116. ^ Klare, Michael (1 June 2013). "Welcome to Cold War II". Tom Dispatch. RealClearWorld. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
    117. ^ Meyer, Henry; Wishart, Ian; Biryukov, Andrey (13 February 2016). "Russia's Medvedev: We Are in 'a New Cold War'". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
    118. ^ Simpson Jr., George L. (1 March 2010). "Russian and Chinese Support for Tehran". Middle East Quarterly. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
    119. ^ Blanchard, Ben (16 November 2017). "China's Xi offers support for Saudi amid regional uncertainty". Reuters. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
    120. ^ Erickson, Amanda (20 December 2017). "What's behind the feud between Saudi Arabia and Iran? Power". The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
    121. ^ "The 'Cold War' between Iran and Saudi Arabia is heating up. Here are 5 things you should know about it". Agence France-Presse. 12 November 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
    122. ^ Marcus, Jonathan (16 September 2019). "Why Saudi Arabia and Iran are bitter rivals". BBC News. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
    123. ^ Mueller, Chelsi (2 May 2020). The Origins of the Arab-Iranian Conflict: Nationalism and Sovereignty in the Gulf between the World Wars. Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108773881. ISBN 9781108773881.
    124. ^ [1],Soviet-American Relations with Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, p411
    125. ^ Aydin, Mustafa (4 June 2019). Turkey's Foreign Policy in the 21st Century: A Changing Role in World Politics. Routledge. ISBN 9781351773898 – via Google Books.
    126. ^ "US fanning sedition between Iran, Arab nations: Egyptian daily". IRNA English. 16 August 2018.
    127. ^ Halliday, Fred (June 1996). "Arabs and Persians beyond the Geopolitics of the Gulf". Cahiers d'Études Sur la Méditerranée Orientale et le Monde Turco-Iranien (22). doi:10.4000/cemoti.143.
    128. ^ Halliday, F. Arabs and Persians beyond the Geopolitics of the Gulf. "The Safavis also institutionalised what was to be another central defining difference between Arabs and Persians, the predominance of Shi'ite Islam in Iran. This made formal the religious difference between Arabs and Persians that had been smouldering since the early years of Islam. In subsequent nationalist rhetoric the Iranians could be seen as shu'ûbiyyin, defectors from both Arabism and the orthodox faith, while in Khomeini's rhetoric Saddam was associated with Yazid, the Umayyad tyrant who killed Hussain at Karbala in 680AD"
    129. ^ Miglietta, John P. (2002). American Alliance Policy in the Middle East, 1945-1992: Iran, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. Lexington Books. p. 56. ISBN 0739103040.
    130. ^ Ramazani, R.K. (1 March 1979). "Security in the Persian Gulf". Foreign Affairs (Spring 1979). Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
    131. ^ Gold, Dore (2003). Hatred's Kingdom. Washington, DC: Regnery. pp. 75–6. ISBN 9780895260611.
    132. ^ "The Sunni-Shia Divide". Council on Foreign Relations. Archived from the original on 8 July 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
    133. ^ Amiri, Reza Ekhtiari; Ku Hasnita Binti Ku Samsu; Hassan Gholipour Fereidouni (2011). "The Hajj and Iran's Foreign Policy towards Saudi Arabia". Journal of Asian and African Studies. 46 (678): 678–690. doi:10.1177/0021909611417546. S2CID 143799946.
    134. ^ Gaub, Florence (February 2016). "War of words: Saudi Arabia v Iran" (PDF). European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS). Retrieved 20 October 2017.
    135. ^ Wallace, Charles P. (3 August 1987). "Iran Asks Overthrow of Saudi Rulers Over Riots: Tehran Stand on Mecca Clash Adds to Tensions; Police Accused of Following U.S. Instructions". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
    136. ^ "Saudi-Iranian cold war: stirring up sectarian hostilities". Mediterranean Affairs. 17 November 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
    137. ^ Fahim, Kareem; Kirkpatrick, David D. (14 May 2012). "Saudi Arabia Seeks Union of Monarchies in Region". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
    138. ^ Hammond, Andrew (17 May 2012). "Analysis: Saudi Gulf union plan stumbles as wary leaders seek detail". Reuters. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
    139. ^ "Turkey joins Sunni 'anti-terrorist' military coalition". Hurriyet Daily News. Agence France-Presse. 15 December 2015. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
    140. ^ "What do Russia and Iran think about Saudi Arabia's coalition initiative?". Euronews. 15 December 2015. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
    141. ^ Ramani, Samuel (12 September 2016). "Israel Is Strengthening Its Ties With The Gulf Monarchies". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
    142. ^ Riedel, Bruce (2011). "Brezhnev in the Hejaz". The National Interest (September–October 2011). Retrieved 7 October 2016.
    143. ^ Byman, Daniel (1 December 2011). "After the hope of the Arab Spring, the chill of an Arab Winter". The Washington Post. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
    144. ^ Ross, Dennis (20 June 2017). "Trump Is on a Collision Course With Iran". Politico Magazine. Politico. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
    145. ^ Bazzi, Mohamad (20 June 2017). "The Growing U.S.-Iran Proxy Fight in Syria". The Atlantic. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
    146. ^ See:
    147. ^ Gause III, F. Gregory (27 June 2017). "What the Qatar crisis shows about the Middle East". The Washington Post. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
    148. ^ a b Al-Rasheed, Madawi (23 April 2018). "What Fuels the Saudi Rivalry With Iran?". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
    149. ^ Hossein Mousavian, Seyed (3 June 2016). "Saudi Arabia Is Iran's New National Security Threat". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
    150. ^ Farmanfarmaian, Roxane (15 November 2012). "Redrawing the Middle East map: Iran, Syria and the new Cold War". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
    151. ^ Hubbard, Ben (25 September 2015). "Hajj Tragedy Inflames Schisms During a Pilgrimage Designed for Unity". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
    152. ^ Tharoor, Ishaan (24 September 2015). "How the deadly hajj stampede feeds into old Middle East rivalries". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
    153. ^ Black, Ian; Weaver, Matthew (25 September 2015). "Iran blames Saudi leaders for hajj disaster as investigation begins". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
    154. ^ Schemm, Paul (12 May 2016). "Iran suspends participation in the hajj as relations with Saudi Arabia plummet". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
    155. ^ "Saudi launches Persian hajj TV after tensions with Iran". Agence France‑Presse. 11 September 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
    156. ^ "Iran, Saudi spar over running of haj pilgrimage". Reuters. 6 September 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
    157. ^ Brumfield, Ben; Basil, Yousuf; Pearson, Michael (2 January 2016). "Tehran protest after Saudi Arabia executes Shiite cleric". CNN. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
    158. ^ Loveluck, Louisa. "Iran supreme leader says Saudi faces 'divine revenge'". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2 January 2016. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
    159. ^ "Police Arrest 40 People for Storming Saudi Embassy in Tehran". Fars News Agency. 3 January 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
    160. ^ Brumfield, Ben; Basil, Yousuf; Pearson, Michael (3 January 2016). "Mideast protests rage after Saudi Arabia executes Shia cleric al-Nimr, 46 others". CNN. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
    161. ^ "More countries back Saudi Arabia in Iran dispute". Al Jazeera. 6 January 2016. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
    162. ^ "Saudi Arabia ally Comoros breaks off relations with Iran". Agence France-Presse. 16 January 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
    163. ^ "Bahrain cuts diplomatic ties with Iran". Al Jazeera. 4 January 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
    164. ^ Bennett-Jones, Owen (4 May 2015). "Saudi king faces changing landscape". BBC News. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
    165. ^ Stuster, J. Dana (13 September 2016). "Middle East Ticker: A New Syrian Ceasefire and a Saudi-Iran Oil Spat". Lawfare Blog. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
    166. ^ Arkhipov, Ilya; Khrennikova, Dina; Mazneva, Elena (2 September 2016). "Putin Pushes for Oil Freeze Deal With OPEC, Exemption for Iran". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
    167. ^ El Gamal, Rania; Zhdannikov, Dmitry (23 September 2016). "Saudis offer oil cut for OPEC deal if Iran freezes output: sources". Reuters. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
    168. ^ Khalilzad, Zalmay (14 September 2016). "'We Misled You': How the Saudis Are Coming Clean on Funding Terrorism". Politico Magazine. Politico. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
    169. ^ Zarif, Mohammad Javad (13 September 2016). "Mohammad Javad Zarif: Let Us Rid the World of Wahhabism". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
    170. ^ Erdbrink, Thomas; Krauss, Clifford (8 December 2016). "Iran Races to Clinch Oil Deals Before Donald Trump Takes Office". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
    171. ^ Hubbard, Ben; Erdbrink, Thomas (21 May 2017). "In Saudi Arabia, Trump Reaches Out to Sunni Nations, at Iran's Expense". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
    172. ^ "Snipers Injure Scores of Civilians in Saudi Arabia's Qatif". Iran Front Page. 14 June 2017. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
    173. ^ McKernan, Bethan (15 May 2017). "Two dead in Saudi town 'siege' against Shia militants". The Independent. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
    174. ^ MacDonald, Alex (14 May 2017). "Several reported killed as Saudi town enters fifth day of 'siege'". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
    175. ^ "U.N. slams erasing of "cultural heritage" in Saudi Arabia". Reuters. 24 May 2017. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
    176. ^ "Tehran says Saudi coastguard killed Iranian fisherman". Al Jazeera. 17 June 2017. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
    177. ^ Al-Shihri, Abdullah; Batrawy, Aya (19 June 2017). "Saudi Arabia claims arrest of Iran's Revolutionary Guard". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Associated Press. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
    178. ^ "Iran denies Saudi claim of Revolutionary Guards' arrest". Al Jazeera. 19 June 2017. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
    179. ^ Sharafedin, Bozorgmehr (7 June 2017). "Islamist militants strike heart of Tehran, Iran blames Saudis". Reuters. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
    180. ^ Karimi, Nasser (9 June 2017). "Iran leaders accuse US, Saudis of supporting Tehran attacks". Associated Press. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
    181. ^ Osborne, Samuel (13 June 2017). "US 'created Isis' and its war on the terrorists is 'a lie', says Iran's Supreme Leader". The Independent. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
    182. ^ Revill, John (25 October 2017). "Swiss to represent Iran, Saudi interests after rivals broke ties". Reuters. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
    183. ^ Fitch, Asa (6 November 2017). "Iran-Saudi Cold War Intensifies as Militant Threat Fades". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
    184. ^ Kirkpatrick, David D. (6 November 2017). "Saudi Arabia Charges Iran With 'Act of War,' Raising Threat of Military Clash". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
    185. ^ El Sirgany, Sarah (7 November 2017). "Iran's actions may be 'act of war,' Saudi crown prince says". CNN. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
    186. ^ a b c "Bahrain says pipeline explosion 'terrorist sabotage' linked to Iran". Deutsche Welle. 12 November 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
    187. ^ "Dubai security chief calls for bombing of Al Jazeera". Al Jazeera. 25 November 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
    188. ^ O'Connor, Tom (27 November 2017). "Iran: Muslim 'Resistance' to U.S., Saudi Arabia and Israel Ready to Fight Worldwide". Newsweek. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
    189. ^ Kamali Dehghan, Saeed (31 October 2018). "Concern over UK-based Iranian TV channel's links to Saudi Arabia". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
    190. ^ Carey, Glen (10 January 2018). "Even Saudi Arabia's Allies Are Questioning Its Mideast Power Plays". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
    191. ^ "Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, power behind the throne". BBC News. 7 March 2018. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
    192. ^ Perper, Rosie (7 March 2018). "Saudi Arabia is in nuclear talks with the US — and it could be a sign the country is trying to get even with rival Iran". Business Insider. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
    193. ^ Tharoor, Ishaan (8 March 2018). "Saudi crown prince sees a new axis of 'evil' in the Middle East". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
    194. ^ a b Hubbard, Ben (15 March 2018). "Saudi Crown Prince Likens Iran's Supreme Leader to Hitler". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
    195. ^ a b c Macias, Amanda (19 March 2018). "Saudi crown prince, Trump to hold 'critical' talks on Iran nuclear deal". CNBC. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
    196. ^ Chulov, Martin (24 October 2017). "I will return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam, says crown prince". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
    197. ^ a b c Landler, Mark (8 May 2018). "Trump Withdraws U.S. From 'One-Sided' Iran Nuclear Deal". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
    198. ^ Randolph, Eric (26 February 2018). "Iran's eastern shift shows patience running out with the West". Yahoo News. Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
    199. ^ a b O'Connor, Tom (10 May 2018). "Saudi Arabia Should 'Come Out of the Closet' and Help Fight Iran in Syria, Israel Says". Newsweek. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
    200. ^ O'Connor, Tom (9 May 2018). "Did Trump Break the Law? U.S. Leaves Iran Deal, Violates World Order and Risks War, Experts Say". Newsweek. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
    201. ^ Harris, Gardiner; Ewing, Jack (6 August 2018). "U.S. to Restore Sanctions on Iran, Deepening Divide With Europe". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
    202. ^ Bayoumy, Yara; Landay, Jonathan; Strobel, Warren (27 July 2018). "Trump seeks to revive 'Arab NATO' to confront Iran". Reuters. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
    203. ^ Abedi, Maham (12 October 2018). "Why the case of a missing journalist is prompting international backlash against Saudi Arabia". Global News. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
    204. ^ The White House (20 November 2018). "Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia". Retrieved 17 December 2018 – via National Archives.
    205. ^ Jalonick, Mary Clare; Mascaro, Lisa; Lee, Matthew (14 December 2018). "Senate rebukes Trump, Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi, Yemen war". Associated Press. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
    206. ^ El Gamal, Rania; Sharafedin, Bozorgmehr (12 May 2019). "Saudi oil tankers among those attacked off UAE amid Iran tensions". Reuters. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
    207. ^ Gambrell, Jon (13 June 2019). "Tankers struck near Strait of Hormuz; US blames Iran". Associated Press. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
    208. ^ "Iran Says It Wants Good Relations With Saudi Arabia, U.A.E." RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
    209. ^ Gambrell, Jon (14 September 2019). "Saudi Arabia: Drone attacks knocked out half its oil supply". Associated Press. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
    210. ^ "Saudi oil attacks: US says intelligence shows Iran involved". BBC News. 16 September 2019. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
    211. ^ Nissenbaum, Dion; Said, Summer; Youssef, Nancy A. (14 September 2019). "Suspicions Rise That Saudi Oil Attack Came From Outside Yemen". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
    212. ^ Nissenbaum, Dion; Said, Summer (16 September 2019). "U.S. Tells Saudi Arabia Oil Attacks Were Launched From Iran". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
    213. ^ Pérez-Peña, Richard; Kirkpatrick, David D. (16 September 2019). "Saudi Arabia Says Iranian Weapons Were Used in Strikes on Oil Facilities". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
    214. ^ "Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says Saudi Arabia should see attack on oil facilities as a warning to end its Yemen war". The Associated Press. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
    215. ^ "Qasem Soleimani: US kills top Iranian general in Baghdad air strike". BBC News. 3 January 2020. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
    216. ^ Abdul-Zahra, Qassim (1 January 2020). "Protesters attack US Embassy in Baghdad after airstrikes". Associated Press. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
    217. ^ Salim, Mustafa; Ryan, Missy; Sly, Liz; Hudson, John (3 January 2020). "In major escalation, American strike kills top Iranian commander in Baghdad". The Washington Post. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
    218. ^ "Reactions to the killing of Iranian general in a U.S. air strike". Reuters. 2 January 2020. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
    219. ^ "Hamas Distributes Qatari Money Quietly Brought into Gaza".
    220. ^ "US accuses ex-Venezuela politician of helping recruit Hezbollah, Hamas operatives". June 2020.
    221. ^ Bechtol, Bruce E. North Korean Military Proliferation in the Middle East and Africa: Enabling Violence and Instability.
    222. ^ "Why Palestine Supports China on the South China Sea". The Diplomat. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
    223. ^ "North Korea's Balancing Act in the Persian Gulf". The Huffington Post. 17 August 2015. Archived from the original on 17 August 2015. Retrieved 17 August 2015. North Korea's military support for Houthi rebels in Yemen is the latest manifestation of its support for anti-American forces.
    224. ^ "The September 14 drone attack on Saudi oil fields: North Korea's potential role | NK News". 30 September 2019. Archived from the original on 11 October 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
    225. ^ "North Korea is hiding nukes and selling weapons, alleges confidential UN report". CNN. 5 February 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019. The summary also accuses North Korea of violating a UN arms embargo and supplying small arms, light weapons and other military equipment to Libya, Sudan, and Houthi rebels in Yemen, through foreign intermediaries.
    226. ^ "Secret UN report reveals North Korea attempts to supply Houthis with weapons". Al-Arabiya. 4 August 2018. Retrieved 4 August 2018. The report said that experts were investigating efforts by the North Korean Ministry of Military Equipment and Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID) to supply conventional arms and ballistic missiles to Yemen’s Houthi group.
    227. ^ "Panel investigates North Korean weapon used in Mogadishu attack on UN compound". 3 March 2021.
    228. ^ "Oman is a mediator in Yemen. Can it play the same role in Qatar?". The Washington Post. 22 July 2017. Archived from the original on 18 October 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018. Oman is a mediator in Yemen. Can it play the same role in Qatar?
    229. ^ "Oman denies arms smuggled through border to Houthis". Middle East Eye. Archived from the original on 26 April 2019. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
    230. ^ "Yemen's Houthi-led govt appoints new envoy to Syria". Middle East Monitor. 12 November 2020. Archived from the original on 13 November 2020. Retrieved 30 March 2021. Yemen's Houthi-led National Salvation Government (NSG) has appointed a new ambassador to Syria, one of the countries alongside Iran which recognises the Sanaa-based government.
    231. ^ Mahmood, Ali. "Aden's STC says Qatar is giving Houthis financial support". The National. The Southern Transitional Council said Doha is helping Iranian-backed rebels to buy weapons
    232. ^ "A former intelligence officer reveals Qatar's support for the Houthis to strike Saudi Arabia". Saudi24News. The newspaper quoted the former intelligence officer, who introduced himself under a pseudonym “Jason J,” as saying that Doha has been funding the Houthi militia over the past few years “directly” with the aim of attacking Saudi Arabia. The Austrian newspaper stated that the files of the former intelligence man contain accurate details of Qatar’s funding over the years for the Lebanese Hezbollah militias and the Muslim Brotherhood, which reveals the seriousness of the role Qatar plays in the region.
    233. ^ How did Qatar back the Houthis in Yemen? Egypt Today:The magizine of Egypt
    234. ^ "Yemeni adviser: Qatar's support for Houthis blatant".
    235. ^ Mohammed, Islam Financing and arming, Qatar's dangerous support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Houthis in Yemen
    236. ^ "How friendship with Venezuela benefits Iran's isolated regime". Arab News. 30 January 2021.
    237. ^ About Hezbollah Hezbollah
    238. ^ “The Hezbollah model” and how the Hezbollah influenced the Houthis
    239. ^ Yemen's Houthi rebels raise nearly $300,000 for Hezbollah
    240. ^ Hezbollah and the Syrian Conflict
    241. ^ Who Can Rein In Iran-Aligned Shiite Militias In Iraq After Soleimani
    242. ^ Iraq insurgent groups form one council
    243. ^ "Bahrain: Widespread Suppression, Scant Reforms". Human Rights Watch. 31 January 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
    244. ^ a b Mohyeldin, Ayman (6 June 2017). "Qatar and Its Neighbors Have Been At Odds Since the Arab Spring". NBC News. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
    245. ^ a b Wintour, Patrick (7 June 2017). "Qatar: UAE and Saudi Arabia step up pressure in diplomatic crisis". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
    246. ^ a b Gambrell, Jon (6 June 2017). "Arab nations cut ties with Qatar in new Mideast crisis". Associated Press. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
    247. ^ a b Browning, Noah (5 June 2017). "Yemen cuts diplomatic ties with Qatar: state news agency". Reuters. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
    248. ^ a b "Qatar row: Saudi and Egypt among countries to cut Doha links". BBC News. 5 June 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
    249. ^ a b Khatri, Shabina S. (1 July 2017). "Defense minister: Blockade of Qatar a 'declaration of war'". Doha News. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
    250. ^ a b Alkhalisi, Zahraa (22 June 2017). "Qatar: 'We can defend our currency and the economy'". CNN. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
    251. ^ a b Fahim, Kareem (23 June 2017). "Demands by Saudi-led Arab states for Qatar include shuttering Al Jazeera". The Washington Post. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
    252. ^ a b Erickson, Amanda (23 June 2017). "Why Saudi Arabia hates Al Jazeera so much". The Washington Post. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
    253. ^ a b "Saudi-led group: Qatar not serious about demands". Al Jazeera. 6 July 2017. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
    254. ^ a b "Saudi-led group vows 'appropriate' measures". Al Jazeera. 7 July 2017. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
    255. ^ a b "Qatar To Reinstate Ambassador To Iran Amid Gulf Crisis". 24 August 2017.
    256. ^ "Iranian Kurds Return to Arms". Stratfor. 29 July 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
    257. ^ "Saudi Arabia, UAE send troops to support Kurds in Syria". Middle East Monitor. 22 November 2018.
    258. ^ "Why Iran's agents hound political refugees in distant Albania". Arab News. 2 July 2019.[better source needed]
    259. ^ "Iran lashes out against Albania after Soleimani killing | DW | 21.01.2020". DW.COM.
    260. ^ "Saudi Arabia commends Albania for expelling Iranian diplomats linked to terrorism". Al Arabiya English. 22 December 2018.
    261. ^ "Iran: Saudis gave Israel 'strategic' intel in 2006 Lebanon war". The Times of Israel. 7 June 2016. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
    262. ^ Marcus, Jonathan (24 November 2017). "Israel and Saudi Arabia: What's shaping the covert 'alliance'". BBC News. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
    263. ^ Hubbard, Ben (13 May 2018). "With Demise of Nuclear Deal, Iran's Foes See an Opportunity. Others See Risk of War". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 May 2018.