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  • On January 2nd, 2016 Saudi Arabia executed a top Shia cleric, allegedly for his role

  • in anti-government protests. Iran, which is predominantly Shia, immediately condemned

  • the killing, as did a number of human rights groups. Soon after, Iranians stormed the Saudi

  • embassy in Tehran, leading to Saudi Arabia cutting diplomatic ties with Iran. With extreme

  • rhetoric flying back and forth, many worry that the two countries may end up in an all

  • out war. So, what would happen if Saudi Arabia and Iran went to war?

  • Well, for decades, both countries have exemplified the Sunni-Shia divide in the Middle East.

  • Since 2015, they have fought a proxy war in Yemen, with Saudi Arabia and the United States

  • supporting the former Yemeni government, and Iran supporting the rebel faction. In the

  • event of an actual direct conflict, however, the landscape would be very different.

  • Both counties are massive, and are only separated by a few miles of Persian Gulf. Iran covers

  • roughly 600,000 square miles, while Saudi Arabia occupies about 800,000 square miles.

  • They also have very high GDPs, with Iran ranking around 28th worldwide, and Saudi Arabia at

  • number 19. However, Iran’s population of roughly 80 million people is more than two

  • and a half times the size of Saudi Arabia’s population, which is less than 30 million.

  • So how does this translate to an actual conflict? Well, considering their geographic locations,

  • the two countries are close enough for a massive land battle. In this regard, Iran could potentially

  • demolish Saudi Arabia, with more than 2.3 million available military members compared

  • to roughly 250,000. On the other hand, it isn’t necessarily manpower that wins wars,

  • and in the modern age, technology may be a more likely ally. While Iran spends about

  • 6 billion dollars a year on defense, Saudi Arabia spends about 50 billion dollars more.

  • That’s quite a lot of tanks, planes, boats, and bombs.

  • But realistically, this would not be a conflict in a vacuum, and any deficiencies that each

  • country may have can be easily bolstered by the support of surrounding and geopolitically

  • involved countries. Unfortunately for Iran, the Sunni-Shia divide would likely be a deciding

  • factor for most Middle Eastern countries. Pew estimates that as many as 90% of all Muslims

  • subscribe to the Sunni faith. In fact, the only countries with a Shia majority are Iran,

  • Iraq, Bahrain, Azerbaijan, and, possibly Yemen. But in the days since the execution, Bahrain

  • has cut ties with Iran, along with a majority of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes

  • some of the most powerful countries in the Middle East.

  • Iran has also long seen hostility with Israel and the United States, the latter of which

  • is a direct ally of Saudi Arabia. In the end, despite a surplus of manpower, Iran’s geopolitical

  • position is much weaker than Saudi Arabia’s, and without significant support, there is

  • almost no chance of an Iranian victory.

  • There’s a lot more to Saudi Arabia and Iran’s rocky relationship than just one execution.

  • Find out more about the two countriesfight to control the Middle East in the video at

  • the top. Learn about why how their conflict began in the video at the bottom. Thanks for

  • watching TestTube News! Don’t forget to subscribe for more videos. Well see you

  • next time.

On January 2nd, 2016 Saudi Arabia executed a top Shia cleric, allegedly for his role

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