Saudi Arabia–Iran Contention and the Role of Foreign Actors

Dr. Vrushal T. Ghoble is Assistant Professor at the Centre for West Asian Studies, School of International Studies, at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
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  • January 2019

    The Sykes–Picot Agreement, the Iranian Revolution, the Gulf Wars, and other events that have unfolded after the Arab Uprising (the Arab Spring), have altered the course of West Asian history. Saudi Arabia and Iran are the new architects determining the course and its trajectory; also significant is the presence of foreign powers. As is evident that oil has been a crucial factor behind the West’s interests in the region. The article states that the new Cold War can be explained as a variance between Iran and Saudi Arabia; and the situation manoeuvred by foreign actors. The region’s geostrategic significance coupled with resource politics and aspiring influence, apart from the sectarian dimension, has been the motivating factor for the emergent squabble between the regional and global players. Much of it can be seen in the context of the geostrategic energy war in Syria, proxy wars in countries like Yemen and political unrest in Bahrain, also risking smaller vulnerable states like Qatar and Lebanon. The article argues that the current situation is a product of a struggle between the two regional powers and the positioning of the US and Russia in the changing dynamics. It evaluates the continuing adversity, emphasising that the crisis is significantly driven by geo-economic factors, and is not merely confined to the regional hegemony aspect.