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Cold War in the Islamic WorldSaudi Arabia, Iran and the Struggle for Supremacy$
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Dilip Hiro

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190944650

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190944650.001.0001

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Iran’s Nuclear Saga; And Iraq Averts an Inter-Sectarian War

Iran’s Nuclear Saga; And Iraq Averts an Inter-Sectarian War

(p.201) 11 Iran’s Nuclear Saga; And Iraq Averts an Inter-Sectarian War
Cold War in the Islamic World

Dilip Hiro

Oxford University Press

Alarmed by the news in August 2002 that Iran was hiding a uranium enrichment facility from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Riyadh strengthened its ties with Pakistan, a declared nuclear power. With the election of radical conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran’s president in 2005, the issue of Tehran’s nuclear program turned into a crisis which was referred to the United Nations Security Council. This reassured Riyadh. On the other hand, it refused to face the reality that once the US, as the occupying power in Iraq, had introduced free and fair elections in post-Saddam Hussein era, the long-suppressed Shia majority would gain power through elections. This happened in late 2005. The alienated Sunni militants, forming Al Qaida in Mesopotamia, bombed a sacred Shia shrine in Samarra in February 2006, and triggered low-intensity warfare between Shias and Sunnis. Washington and Baghdad worked jointly to dampen sectarian violence, and succeeded by buying Sunni tribal leaders’ loyalties with cash. In his secret cable to the State Department in September 2009, the US ambassador in Baghdad conceded that Iran’s influence in Iraq was pervasive. In other words, the balance of power in the Saudi-Iranian Cold War had shifted in Tehran’s favor.

Keywords:   Iran’s nuclear program, IAEA, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, UN Security Council, Shias in Iraq, Al Qaida Mesopotamia, Samarra, Sunni-Shia violence, Iran influences Iraq

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