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  • Saudi Arabia and Iran have, what can lightly be described as, a “tense relationship”.

  • The two majority Islamic countries are geographically separated by only a few miles of Persian Gulf.

  • But ideologically, politically, and culturally, the gap is much wider. Currently, the two

  • are engaged in a “proxy warin Yemen, with both sides recruiting allies in order

  • to influence middle eastern affairs. So, why do Saudi Arabia and Iran hate each other?*

  • Well, back in 1929 the future looked bright for the two nations. They’d signed theSaudi-Iranian

  • Friendship Treatyand diplomatic relations were on the rise. However, sometime in the

  • 60s, the conservative nature of Saudi Arabia ruffled feathers in the modernizing Iran.

  • Anecdotally, Iran’s king or Shah was said to have reached out to Saudi Arabia’s King,

  • saying, “Please, my brother, modernize. Open up your country... Let women wear miniskirts.

  • Have discos. Be modern.” In response, the Saudi king replied, “You are not the Shah

  • of France... You are in Iran. Your population is 90 percent Muslim. Please don't forget

  • that."

  • In fact, despite both countries being predominantly Muslim, each has a different, and opposing,

  • Islamic sect as the religious majority. In short, the Saudis follow Wahhabism, also called

  • Salafism, an ultra-conservative sect of the Sunni faith, while Iranians are mostlyTwelvers

  • of the Shia faith. The divide between Shia and Sunni is largely based on who they believe

  • is the true successor of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad. Most of the world’s Muslims identify

  • as Sunni, and nearly half of the world’s Shiites live in Iran.

  • In 1979, Iran underwent a revolution that ousted the westernized, US-backed Shah, and

  • instituted an Islamic republic led by a religious authority, Ayatollah Khomeini. The now anti-US

  • Iran began openly condemning Saudi Arabia’s religious authority and support for the US.

  • In the late 80s, possibly spurred by Saudi Arabia and the US’s significant backing

  • of Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War, the Ayatollah made a number of inflammatory comments. After

  • calling the Saudis a “band of heretics”, diplomatic relations between the two countries

  • stalled.

  • But by 2007, tensions had relaxed enough that the Iranian President visited Saudi Arabia

  • as a friendly gesture. In 2011 there was an assassination attempt by Iranian nationals

  • against the Saudi ambassador to the US. At the same time, Iran supported Syrian president

  • Bashar-al Assad against US and Saudi forces during the Syrian civil war. This reignited

  • Iran and Saudi Arabia’s ideologically rivalry.

  • Since the 1960s, the two countries have been fighting for influence and control of the

  • Middle East along religious and political lines. Currently they are engaged in a proxy

  • war in Yemen, exemplifying the Sunni/Shia East/West divide.

  • If you want to learn more about the conflict in Yemen and Saudi Arabia and Iran’s fight

  • to control the Middle East, check out these two videos. One’s all about where Yemen’s

  • civil war started, and the one below is about how it’s essentially become a proxy war.

  • Thanks for watching!

Saudi Arabia and Iran have, what can lightly be described as, a “tense relationship”.

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