The Widening Gulf: Arab Spring and the Saudi-Iranian Divide
The relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran remains an important factor in the stability of the Persian Gulf region and the wider Middle East. There are a number of issues which remain the bone of contention between the two important regional players. The Saudi–Iranian relations have been strained from the time of the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979. Iranian interest in the Arab Spring continued to grow as the protests spread from one country to another. Protests in Bahrain became a flashpoint of conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The nature of Syria's demography and population has been a propellant of the conflict as the civil war has taken a sectarian dimension. Instability in Yemen is a major concern for Saudi Arabia as it shares a long and porous border with it. Saudi Arabia has joined the US in its coalition against the Islamic State while Iran has decided to fight it alongside the Iraqi forces.