The Russian military intervention in the Syrian civil war changed the strategic landscape of that conflict. Iran’s pro-Assad position as emboldened by Russia’s support, and the IRGC’s role in the war was further legitimized. Russia’s backing earned Iran a seat at the table in the international diplomatic effort to solve the Syrian conflict. Iran’s ascent further antagonized its tense rivalry with Saudi Arabia. Iran-Saudi relations were already inflamed due to the on-going war in Syria, the Saudi-led war against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, and a tragic accident during the annual Muslim pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia which killed over two thousand, including over 450 Iranians. Iran’s former ambassador to Lebanon went missing in the aftermath of the hajj tragedy, and Iranian officials blamed Saudi Arabia for his abduction. Incidents such as this suggest regional conflict is far from abating.
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