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News Link • Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia and Iran Battle for Power in the Middle East

•, by Vivian Salama

The two nations have long fought proxy wars against each other, but many fear that the newly empowered Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is looking to assert Saudi Arabia's regional dominance at any cost. The conflict heated up last year when Saudi Arabia executed a Shiite cleric and then severed diplomatic ties with Iran.

Now the Saudis are publicly airing their disapproval with Iran's chief foreign affiliate, Hezbollah, which has significant representation in Lebanon's parliament and has asserted its influence in neighboring Syria.

Experts, however, don't think a regional conflagration is imminent. "The Saudis have always thought the wrong solution for their problem with Iran and now their hope is the Trump administration will come in and tilt the balance in their favor," said Ali Vaez, the Iran project director at Crisis Group. "It's unlikely to change Iran's regional policy — Iran will continue to support its allies and proxies in the region — but it's unlikely to result in a major conflict."

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