The recent attacks on two of Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic missions in Iran have exacerbated sectarian tensions in the Middle East. Is the region on the brink of another bloody conflict, pitting two major regional powers against each other? Iran and Saudi Arabia are already fighting each other in Syria — Tehran through its allies like Hezbollah and Riyadh via various proxies in the anti-Assad rebellion — and in Yemen, where Houthi rebels supported by Iran are fighting Saudi forces on the kingdom’s own border. However, a direct conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia would have immediate and dramatic effects felt throughout the world.
The Obama White House hoped that its nuclear deal with Iran would help stabilize the Middle East, but it seems rather to have energized the clerical regime in its efforts for regional domination. What are the choices ahead for this administration and its successor as it seeks to extinguish, rather than stoke, the region’s furies? How should policymakers deal with Iran? How should they counsel longstanding American allies, like Saudi Arabia? What impact could the latest tensions have on stability in Gulf states such as Bahrain?
On Friday, January 15, Hudson Institute hosted a timely lunchtime panel with experts Ali Alfoneh, Michael Doran, and Phillip Smyth, moderated by Lee Smith.