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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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Multi-front Cold War between Riyadh and Tehran

Multi-front Cold War between Riyadh and Tehran

(p.275) 13 Multi-front Cold War between Riyadh and Tehran
Cold War in the Islamic World

Dilip Hiro

Oxford University Press

When rebel Houthis, followers of Zaidi Shia code, captured Sanaa in September 2014, and expelled Yemen’s Sunni President Abd Rabbu al Hadi, alarm bells rang in Riyadh. Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman led a coalition of friendly states to intervene in the Yemeni civil war in March 2015. This ignited protest by the Shias in Saudi Arabia. Their indignation intensified when, ignoring international appeals for clemency, the Saudi government executed their revered Ayatollah Nimr al Nimr in January 2016. This led to the severance of diplomatic ties between Riyadh and Tehran. In Iraq, whereas Iran dispatched its trained Shia volunteers to fight Islamic Sate in Syria and Iraq (ISIS), Riyadh lent four jet fighters to the Pentagon in Washington’s anti-ISIS campaign. When Riyadh backed Syrian opposition with cash and weapons, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent air force units to Syria, and shored up Assad’s depleted arms arsenal. With Assad’s recapture of Eastern Aleppo, an opposition stronghold, in December 2016, Iran established superiority over Riyadh in Syria. In July 2015, Iran and six major world powers signed an accord on Tehran’s denuclearization program, titled Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It won universal approval except by Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Keywords:   Houthis, Zaidi Shias, Abd Rabbu al-Hadi, Sanaa, Saudi Shias, Nimr al Nimr, ISIS, Vladimir Putin, Eastern Aleppo, Iran’s nuclear deal

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