Worsening Crisis in Saudi-Iranian Relations Further Destabilizes the Middle East
The escalating crisis in Saudi Arabian-Iranian relations is going to impact many countries in numerous ways. For years Saudi Arabia and Iran’s geopolitical rivalry has fuelled bloodshed in many corners of the Islamic world from Lebanon to Afghanistan. However, Riyadh’s decision to execute Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr at the start of this month, the Iranian response, and the political fallout have raised the Middle East’s sectarian temperatures to the highest level since the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.
Knowing that al-Nimr’s killing would meet an angry response from Iran and Shi’ite communities in several continents, what drove Saudi Arabia to carry out his execution? Why have numerous Sunni-ruled states in Africa and the Middle East sided with Riyadh and what are their stakes in this crisis? How may this escalating tension impact the prospects for peace in Syria and Yemen? Which actors in the region have the most to gain or lose from the political and social fallout? Earlier this month, Gulf State Analytics (a Washington, DC-based geopolitical risk consulting firm) sat down with Middle East expert Cinzia Bianco to discuss these complicated issues.