Saudi-Iranian Relations Since the Fall of Saddam

Saudi-Iranian Relations Since the Fall of Saddam: Rivalry, Cooperation, and Implications for U.S. Policy

Frederic Wehrey
Theodore W. Karasik
Alireza Nader
Jeremy Ghez
Lydia Hansell
Robert A. Guffey
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 156
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  • Book Info
    Saudi-Iranian Relations Since the Fall of Saddam
    Book Description:

    This book surveys how Saudi-Iranian relations have unfolded in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine since 2003, identifying the sources of rivalry and cooperation between the two powers. Understanding and leveraging this relationship will be a critical part of U.S. efforts to promote stability after the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq and to manage the regional impact of Iran's nuclear ambitions.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4710-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Summary
    (pp. ix-xxii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  7. CHAPTER ONE Introduction: Saudi Arabia and Iran—Between Confrontation and Cooperation
    (pp. 1-10)

    The fall of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in 2003 and the war in Iraq have affected sweeping changes to the strategic landscape of the Middle East, radically shifting the regional balance of power. Old security paradigms have been thrown into question, and local states appear to be reaffirming, renegotiating, or rethinking their relations with one another and with outside powers. Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have arguably been a central pivot around which this transformation has turned. The collapse of Iraq as the eastern flank of the Arab world and growing regional perceptions of U.S. immobility have encouraged Tehran’s...

  8. CHAPTER TWO Sectarianism and Ideology in the Saudi-Iranian Relationship
    (pp. 11-44)

    As noted in Chapter One, the conventional narrative of Saudi-Iranian relations suggests that heightened Sunni-Shi’a tensions throughout the Middle East should be a significant factor in the policy calculus of each regime. Ideologies that emphasize the distinctions between Arabs and Persians, the East and the West, and ruling classes and the “street” are also thought to inform Saudi and Iranian threat perceptions. While these structural elements certainly affect relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, they are not the main drivers. Rather, sectarianism and ideology function both as calculated instruments of state policy and as a set of deeply held beliefs...

  9. CHAPTER THREE Relations in the “Core”: Conflict Regulation in the Gulf and Iraq
    (pp. 45-76)

    In light of the previous framework for assessing sectarian and ideological fissures, this chapter will explore Saudi-Iranian relations in the “Core”—the immediate geographical neighborhood of the two countries, which includes the Persian Gulf and Iraq.

    First, we examine how Saudi Arabia and Iran play out their aspirations in the Gulf and how Gulf states recognize and react to Riyadh and Tehran’s interests and perceptions. A critical theme is that disunity among the GCC states, exemplified most starkly by Qatar and Oman’s historically independent foreign policy postures, has had the effect of moderating Saudi-Iranian relations. In effect, Saudi Arabia and...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR Contention on the Periphery: Saudi-Iranian Relations and the Conflicts in Lebanon and Palestine
    (pp. 77-92)

    If Saudi-Iranian relations within the immediate neighborhood of the Gulf are defined by conflict regulation and muted rivalry, the two states have pursued more open competition in the Levant. Much of the difference between the Gulf and Levantine landscapes stems from Iran’s bifurcated policy in the region: Although it abandoned its support of militancy on the Arabian Peninsula in the mid-1990s, its assertiveness and patronage of nonstate actors has continued largely unabated in Lebanon and in Palestine. Moreover, the Levantine arena contains no natural resources that can temper the rivalry. Finally, the fractured nature of these states and their weak...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE Conclusion: Key Findings and Implications for U.S. Policy
    (pp. 93-106)

    In the preceding chapters, we have explored the dynamics and evolution of Saudi-Iranian relations since 2003 across a number of different topical and geographic spheres. This study is intended to fill a gap in previous literature by using the bilateral relationship between these powers as a framework to assess important transformations in the Middle East security environment. Although not the sole drivers behind these shifts, the dynamics of confrontation, coordination, and engagement between Riyadh and Tehran have had important consequences for security, stability, and economic growth in the Gulf and the Levant. Previous post-2003 studies have often interpreted Saudi-Iranian relations...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 107-130)