Iran and Saudi Arabia’s Strategic Rivalry and the Middle Eastern Security: An Assessment


  • Azeem Gul Department of International Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies, National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Islamabad, Pakistan | Area Study Centre for South and North America, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan.
  • Rizwana Karim Abbasi Department of International Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies, National University of Modren Languages (NUML), Islamabad, Pakistan.
  • Syed Arslan Haider Department of Management, Sunway University Business School, Sunway University, Malaysia.



Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Sunni political power, Shia political power, Strategic rivalry, Proxy wars, Security


The strategic rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran has been worsened for the last two decades. This historical sectarian divisions led by Saudi Arabia and Iran has now morphed into a struggle for regional influence between Shia political power led by Iran and Sunni political power led by Saudi Arabia. Against this backdrop, the study examines the contours of the Middle Eastern security in the context of Saudi and Iran strategic rivalry in various conflicts such as crisis in Syria, Yemen, and situation in Iraq including proxy wars and Iran’s nuclear program. The study finds out that the security situation of the Middle East would have been much better if Saudi and Iran would have cooperated on various issues such as Yemen and Syrian crisis. In addition, the internal vulnerabilities of the Middle East with Iran and Saudi strategic antagonism provided opportunities to the external power intervention that further has intensified the conflicts in the region. The study concludes that the solution of the Middle Eastern problem would lie in building cooperation between Iran and Saudi Arabia relations and in this respect the current rapprochement between the two states is a positive development for Middle Eastern security.


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How to Cite

Gul, A., Abbasi, R. K., & Haider, S. A. (2021). Iran and Saudi Arabia’s Strategic Rivalry and the Middle Eastern Security: An Assessment . Liberal Arts and Social Sciences International Journal (LASSIJ), 5(2), 17–29.