Saudi Arabia and Iran: The Struggle for Power and Influence in the Gulf

By Ariel Jahner

A year of revolutions in and around the Middle East has led to a changing political environment that has overwhelmingly altered the power structure of the region and presented an opportunity for more consolidated leadership in the Gulf for both Saudi Arabia and Iran. Beginning with an overview and analysis of the historical Saudi-Iranian relationship prior to 1979 through the present day, this paper highlights and discusses the challenges and successes of the past that have defined the relationship between these two leading Gulf powers, highlighting three core factors that have had the most influence on their relationship. The analysis and evidence will demonstrate that while in recent years the Saudi-Iranian relationship has improved, conflicting interests will result in a continued competition between these two nations as they seek to guarantee alliances within the Gulf and secure the perpetuity of their own regimes.

About the author:
Ariel Jahner is a first year Master of International Business student at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Medford, MA. As a Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellow, she will join the US Foreign Service at the conclusion of her graduate studies.

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