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The structural factors behind Middle East rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia are so deep and it’s very difficult to overcome the problems in the near future.[1]

Except the temporary peace like term between 1941-1979 when Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ruled Iran, the relations between the two countries have been always tense.

 The Islamic Revolution can be defined as a turning point in the relations between these countries. It worsened the pre-existing structural factors that constrained Iran-Saudi cooperation, and Iran emerged as a regional threat.[2] For Saudi Arabia, deterrence of Iran’s influence in the periphery emerged as the number one priority. All measures that the Kingdom has taken are a consistent effort to reduce Iran’s ability to project its influence. And it’s the same for Iran. Because, Arabs were and are the ancient implacable enemy for Iran.[3]

Saudi Arabia and Iran has been at the center of many of the major political shifts that have occurred in the Middle East since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. [4] ISIS was born in this destabilised environment in 2004. Arab Spring was another important milestone in the rivalry. It has transformed the political landscape of the Middle East and elevated sectarian violence to an unprecedented level.[5] ISIS made a great progress in such an ambiguous environment.

The rise of ISIS that does not recognize Shi’as to be Muslim has been an extremely negative development for Iran. Tehran is determined to prevent an ISIS victory in Iraq and Syria since this would have major security implications for Iran.[6] On the other side, the Saudi monarchy is often described as being uncertain about ISIS. Although ISIS is hostile to the regime in Riyadh, it shares much of the Wahhabi fundamentalist ideology that the Saudis use to strengthen their own political legitimacy.[7]

However, ISIS is coming to an end. It is finally being driven out of Mosul and the Raqqa. One day ISIS might be defeated militarily totally. But as long as the conditions that gave rise to ISIS remain in place, future instability and violence can be expected.[8]

Soft Power Rivalry (Saudi Arabia-Iran)

The history of the Saudi Arabia-Iran rivalry dates back to the 7th century and the conquest of the Persians in Mesopotamia by Arab armies, which resulted in the spread of Islam in Persia.[9] Iran and Saudi Arabia have never gotten along well. Saudi Arabia was established in 1927 as the Kingdom of Nejd and Hejaz, and a Saudi-Iranian Friendship Treaty was signed in 1929, but the Saudis kept things cold. Primarily, Iran is mostly Shia, and the ultraconservative Wahhabi sect that dominates Saudi politics detests Shia Muslims. However, Iran under the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who ruled from 1941 to 1979, had excellent relations with Israel.[10] Saudi Arabia and secular Iran had only minor bilateral problems and they had engaged in a strategic alliance to counterbalance the Ba’ath menace emerging from Iraq, but also found common cause in the threat Soviet expansionism posed on them. The Revolution of 1979 worsened the pre-existing structural factors that constrained Iran-Saudi cooperation, and Iran emerged as a regional threat.[11] The relations went on parallel to the Iran-US relations becoming worse after the revolution. But, there has been something more all the time. It is the rivalry of the ideologies that feeds the hostility. When Ayatollah Khomeini emerged after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, he nullified Iran’s friendship with Israel, declared war on the Saddam Hussein’s Sunni regime in Baghdad, and branded the Saudi monarchy illegitimate.[12]

For Saudi Arabia the deterrence of Iran’s influence in the periphery has been the number one priority. All measures that the Kingdom has taken are a consistent effort to reduce Iran’s projection of influence. And it’s the same for Iran’s side. For Persians, Arabs—not Jews—were and are the ancient implacable foe.[13] In spite of the rivalry, they wouldn’t interfere directly in each other’s domestic security affairs.[14]

The often tense relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran has been at the center of many of the major political shifts that have occurred in the Middle East since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Changing diplomatic and economic developments in the Persian Gulf; the political turmoil in Lebanon; continuing trouble in Palestine; and growing strategic concerns around the world about Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons have all, in some way, been shaped by the competing interests of these two nations.[15]

The relations of two countries are divided by long-standing structural tensions. Each has aspirations for Islamic leadership, and each possess different visions for regional order. However, Iran regards Saudi Arabia as America’s proxy and a buffer against Iran’s rightful primacy in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia worries about Iran’s asymmetric power and regional ambitions, especially its expanding influence in post-Saddam Iraq and its alleged pursuit of a nuclear weapon. A particular concern in Riyadh is Iran’s ability to challenge the legitimacy of the al-Saud before regional and domestic audiences by upstaging them on pan-Arab issues such as Palestine. The countries are further divided by political ideologies and governance. Energy differences are another source of tension. Together, these factors along with the well-known sectarian and ethnic cracks that divide the Saudi and Iranian populations would seem to influence the two countries toward chronic hostility.[16]

Arab Spring is a very important milestone in this rivalry. It has transformed the political landscape of the Middle East and elevated sectarian violence to an unprecedented level. The already tense religious fragmentation of Arab countries has been further polarized, as religious minorities started protesting against ruling elites. Therefore, one of the consequences was the revival of the contest between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the traditional fields of proxy conflicts, such as Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain and Syria.[17]

Attempts by Iran and Saudi Arabia to expand their regional influences by interfering in the internal affairs and ethno-sectarian tensions in the Middle East have worsened instability in the Arab countries. Now Riyadh and Tehran have been drawn into the region’s bloody civil wars directly with Iranian forces in Syria and Iraq and with Saudi troops in Bahrain and Yemen to strengthen client regimes. [18]

The structural factors underpinning the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran are deep and have been ongoing for many years. They contain ideological, but mostly geopolitical divisive elements that preserve the Cold War of the Middle East.[19] Sectarian and ideological differences between the two states have had an important role on the region.[20] They may not be the principal determinants in the policy outlook of each regime. But it’s clear that, the sectarian and ideological differences are the most important means for both sides to endure the rivalry.

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The Saudi monarchy openly practices forms of religious intolerance towards both Shias and non-Muslims. 10-15 percent of the Saudi population is Shia. Iran has also very small Sunni minorities in its western side. But, the epicenter of the Saudi-Iranian competition is the Kingdom of Bahrain. The small island of Bahrain has a Shia majority population as high as 70 percent, and is ruled by a Sunni minority. This situation has often resulted in small scale conflict between the two regional powers, as Iran supports and exerts influence on the Shia majority of Bahrain. In addition to this, Bahrain is the home of the US 5th Fleet. Hence, it’s the source of US projection of power and stability in the Gulf region, while it strengthens American control over the Strait of Hormuz. Bahrain is also an indispensable partner for the Saudi oil industry.[21]

Unlike other conflicts in the Middle East, the territorial integrity and stability of Iraq are not optional for Iran.[22]  Iraq has a Shia majority, ranging from 60-65 per cent of the country, and a Sunni minority of approximately 35 percent. Moreover, Iraq is ruled by Shia leadership. Yemen with a 65 per cent Sunni majority population and the rest Shia, the disorder that has emerged in the country after the Arab Spring uprisings has been a major concern for Saudi Arabia. Before 2014, Yemen was not used as a battlefield for a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. However, the support that Tehran is allegedly providing to the Shia insurgents is of high importance to Riyadh given Yemen’s geographical proximity. Lebanon has also been affected by the rise of sectarian violence in the periphery as it has been experiencing the spillover of the Syrian crisis, especially in the city of Tripoli, which is only 30 km away from the Syrian borders. Syria has a Sunni majority population of 74 percent, and is ruled by an Alawite minority, the predominant Shia group of the country (the Shia population in total is 13 per cent). The latest, longest and bloodiest theatre of the Saudi-Iran proxy war is without a doubt is Syria, which has always been a major hotbed of Middle East geopolitics, since it is regarded as the stronghold of Iranian influence in the Shia populations of the region.[23]

There are also new problem areas in the Middle East. One of them is Qatar.  After hosting dozens of Arab and Muslim leaders for President Trump’s summit, Saudi Arabia and the UAE evidently expected a rapid victory over Qatar and widespread regional support. It has not worked out that way. The effort to demonstrate Saudi-UAE hegemony over the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab Middle East has instead demonstrated the continuing divisions of the regional order. [24] Qatar has responded to the list of 13 demands presented to Doha last month. At a meeting in Cairo on July 5, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE said they regretted Qatar’s “negative” response to their list of demands, and restrictions they had imposed would continue.[25] Iran has taken the opportunity to improve its relations with not only Qatar but also Oman and Kuwait. That Saudi Arabia and the UAE were willing to rip apart the GCC over their grievances with Qatar suggests that their fear of Iran is not quite so all consuming. The power struggles and political competition between the Sunni powers, as well as their continuing existential fears of popular uprisings and Islamist challengers remain more urgently threatening than the more widely discussed conflict with Iran.[26]

What ISIS Means for Saudi Arabia and Iran?

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or “the caliphate of the Islamic State” has become the most dangerous threat to global security since al-Qaeda. It is more than just a threat to US and the West, because it also poses an existential threat to Islam.[27] ISIS is not only a terrorist group but also a political and military organization that holds a radical interpretation of Islam. Expelled from Al-Qaeda for being too extreme, the so-called Islamic State claims to be the legitimate ruler of all Sunni Muslims worldwide.[28]

ISIS has intellectual and theological roots that can be traced back to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The cultivation of a specific puritanical interpretation of Sunni Islam, known as Wahhabism, by the Saudi state is core feature of the ISIS crisis that is often ignored. We are experiencing  today the consequences of the endorsement and mainstreaming of Wahhabi Islam on a global scale. When ISIS needed textbooks for its school curricula, it downloaded books from the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia. Wahhabi texts were a perfect ideological match for its theology given the shared Salafist theological bases between the two political entities.[29]

The objective of ISIS became evident from its actions in Iraq and Syria. It is not secret that one of the firmest supporters that share anti-Shi’a ideology with ISIS is the Saudi monarchy. The Saudi monarchy is often described as being uncertain about ISIS. Although ISIS is hostile to the regime in Riyadh (and to the other Gulf monarchies), it shares much of the Wahhabi fundamentalist ideology that the Saudis use to strengthen their own political legitimacy.[30]

The rise of ISIS as an extremist Sunni movement that does not recognize Shi’as to be Muslim has been an extremely negative development for Iran. Tehran is determined to prevent an ISIS victory in Iraq since this would have major security implications for Iran. Such a development would pose a direct threat to Iran’s national security, threatening its western flank. It would also enable ISIS to encourage unrest in the Sunni inhabited regions of Iran, leading to the destabilization of the Iranian state.[31]Unlike other conflicts in the Middle East, the territorial integrity and stability of Iraq are not optional for Iran. Hence, Tehran has a key part in the crisis.[32] Iran is also concerned that ISIS’ effects may lead to the disintegration of Iraq, with Iraqi Kurdistan declaring independence. The Iranian Kurds could opt to go their own way or join the newly-independent Kurdish state to the west.[33]

Iraq is of vital importance to Iran in several respects. First, having Iraq as an ally ensures Iran’s security to the west and enables Tehran to project its influence across the Arab East into Syria and Lebanon. Second, bilateral trade has been growing between Iran and Iraq in recent years, and its value stood at $12 billion in 2013. Finally, if the Assad regime in Syria falls, the value of Iraq will increase significantly for Iran.[34]

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Unlike other terrorist organizations operating in Iran’s neighborhood, ISIS has aims that go well beyond a separatist agenda: it seeks the eradication of Shi’as and the establishment of an Islamic state in accordance with a fundamentalist reading of shari’a law. The rise of ISIS, and in particular the group’s advance into Iraq, initially caught Tehran off guard. Since then, the dynamic of Iranian involvement in Iraq has changed. At first, Tehran minimized the threat from ISIS; then its strategy shifted as the group’s progress became more alarming. Then, in the light of the progress made by ISIS fighters close to Iranian borders, Tehran changed its approach to the conflict again, further increasing its involvement in Iraq in the effort to pre-empt a potential spillover across its borders. The significance of the Iraqi strategic environment for Iran is such that Tehran is unlikely to maintain its current level of engagement in Syria if the crisis in Iraq worsen or endure because of competing priorities and resources.[35]

Iran has three options in Iraq. First; if the crisis in Iraq does not worsen and that ISIS does not expand further, it could maintain its current level of engagement in Syria while continuing its efforts to arm and provide military assistance to proxy groups in Iraq. Second, Iran could significantly increase the resources it has planned for the Iraq crisis. Such an increase in Iranian resources committed to fighting ISIS could follow if the ISIS does not pose a direct threat to Iran’s border. Finally, if the conflict persists and significantly worsens, and if international efforts against ISIS be ineffective, Iran is the only international actor that would be prepared not only to increase its level of military involvement in Iraq but also to put boots on the ground. This would, however, be Tehran’s worst case scenario in terms of involvement.[36]

However; The ISIS is finally being driven out of their two main strongholds: The northern Iraqi city of Mosul and the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa. For some three years, their ability to control these two urban centers, particularly Mosul, served as warped validation of their ambitions to build a modern-day caliphate. [37]

How are the Islamic State’s territorial losses going to affect the landscape of transnational radical Salafist jihadism? Many suggest it could usher in a radical transformation: Perhaps the damage to the Islamic State’s brand will be so severe that al Qaeda reasserts itself as the uncontested leader of the jihadi movement, or perhaps the two groups set aside their differences and seek a rapprochement for the sake of keeping the flame of radical Salafist jihad alive.[38]

The defeat of the Islamic State as a “state” will leave serious questions. One of them is; who will fill the spaces from which the Salafist jihadi group is driven? There is a clear effort by the new Iran-Hezbollah-Shiite militia-Russia coalition to reply: “We will.”[39]

What is the Role of the Wehhabism Faith?

The September 11 attacks on the USA led to intense analysis of Wahhabism and its global influence. The involvement of Saudi citizens in the attacks and suspicions that Saudi institutions helped fund al-Qaeda led many to conclude that Wahhabism contributed to anti-western violence and therefore to call on the Saudi government to reduce its influence.[40] In 2013, the European Union declared that Wahhabism was the main source of global terrorism.[41]

Muhammad bin Abd al Wahhab, whose name is the source of the word “Wahhabi,” founded a religious movement in the Arabian Peninsula during the eighteenth century (1703-1791) that sought to reverse what he perceived as the moral weakening of his society. In particular, Abd al Wahhab denounced many popular Islamic beliefs and practices as idolatrous. Finally, he encouraged a “return” to the pure and orthodox practice of the “fundamentals” of Islam, as embodied in the Quran and in the life of the Prophet Muhammad.[42] Many Muslim authors asserted that Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s views were not the result of an innocent intellectual mistake but an intentional falsification of Islam that suited his desire for power.[43]

Muhammad bin Saud, the ancestral founder of the modern-day Al Saud dynasty, partnered with Abd al Wahhab to begin the process of unifying disparate tribes in the Arabian Peninsula. Their partnership formed the basis for a close political relationship between their descendants that continues today. Since its emergence, Wahhabism’s puritanical and iconoclastic philosophies have resulted in conflict with other Muslim groups. The first Saudi kingdom was destroyed by Ottoman forces in the early 19th century after Wahabbi-inspired warriors seized Mecca and Medina and threatened Ottoman dominance. Similarly, during the 1920s, Wahhabi-trained Bedouin warriors allied with the founder of the modern Saudi kingdom, Abd al Aziz ibn Saud, attacked fellow Sunnis in western Arabia and Shiites in southern Iraq leading to political confrontations and military engagements with the British Empire.[44]

Since the foundation of the modern kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, there has been a close relationship between the Saudi ruling family and the Wahhabi religious establishment. Wahhabi-trained Bedouin warriors known as the Ikhwan were integral to the Al Saud family’s military campaign to reconquer and unify the Arabian Peninsula from 1912 until an Ikhwan rebellion was put down by force in 1930. Thereafter, Wahhabi clerics were integrated into the new kingdom’s religious and political establishment, and Wahhabi ideas formed the basis of the rules and laws adopted to govern social affairs in Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism also shaped the kingdom’s judicial and educational policies.[45]

Ibn ̔Abd al-Wahhab demonstrated hostility toward all forms rationalism and intellectual thought. He viewed fields of knowledge related to the humanities, especially philosophy, as a unique corruption connected to “the sciences of the devil.” Ibn ̔Abd al-Wahhab’s views would have remained marginal if several critical developments did not help his ideas to expand globally. During the mid-20th century, however, Salafism moved towards a more conservative direction and gradually became infused with Wahhabism in part because of the methodological similarity between these two currents of thought. Today, the two are synonymous terms.[46]

Conclusion

Saudi Arabia-Iran rivalry has long been an important factor in shaping the geopolitics in the Persian Gulf. Their neighbors have often been the battlefield of proxy wars at the same time. Arab Spring has transformed the political landscape of the Middle East and elevated sectarian violence to an unprecedented level. [47] ISIS benefited extensively from such an ambiguous environment.

Iran and Saudi Arabia has goals to expand their regional influences by interfering in the internal affairs and ethno-sectarian tensions in the Middle East. These ambitions and attempts have worsened instability in the Arab countries. The two countries have been drawn into the region’s complex civil war environment directly with Saudi troops in Bahrain and Yemen and with Iranian forces in Syria and Iraq to support client regimes. [48]

As a last, Qatar is waiting in front of the door as a new problem. After hosting dozens of Arab and Muslim leaders for President Trump’s summit, Saudi Arabia and the UAE evidently expected a rapid victory over Qatar and widespread regional support. It has not worked out that way. Iran has taken the opportunity to improve its relations with not only Qatar but also Oman and Kuwait. [49]

The Syrian crisis provided Saudi Arabia with an opportunity to deteriorate Assad’s regime and afterwards isolate Iran in the region. ISIS is one of the means that was used and may still be used in this rivalry despite it cannot be controlled. It is a big threat even for Saudi Arabia despite the fact that they share the same basic faiths. But the threat for Iran is incomparable.

Saudi Arabia is often described as being uncertain about ISIS. Although ISIS is hostile to the regime in Riyadh, it shares much of the Wahhabi fundamentalist ideology that the Saudis use to strengthen their own political legitimacy.[50]

The rise of ISIS as an extremist Sunni movement that does not recognize Shi’as to be Muslim has been an extremely negative development for Iran. Tehran is determined to prevent an ISIS victory in Iraq since this would have major security effects for Iran.[51]

ISIS has intellectual and theological roots that can be traced back to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The cultivation of a specific puritanical interpretation of Sunni Islam, known as Wahhabism, by the Saudi state is core feature of the ISIS crisis.[52] The European Union declared that Wahhabism was the main source of global terrorism in 2013. Saudi Arabia’s support to ISIS may not be certain. But it’s clear that, the narrowness of the Wahhabi vision is a fertile soil in which ISIS’s extremist ideology can flourish.[53]

The ISIS is coming to an end. It is finally being driven out of Mosul and the Raqqa. One day ISIS might be defeated militarily totally. But as long as the conditions that gave rise to ISIS remain in place, future instability and violence can be expected. The mass desperation and hysteria that the Islamic State represents will only re-emerge again in more extreme forms, in the years to come.[54]

 

 

References:

  1. ARMSTRONG Karen ”The spread of Wahhabism, and the West’s responsibility to the world” 2015; accessed June 25,2017 http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2015/11/spread-wahhabism-and-west-s-responsibility-world
  2. ABRAMS Elliott, “The United States Can’t Retreat From the Middle East, 2017; accessed August 12,2017: http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/07/10/what-comes-after-isis-islamic-state-mosul-iraq-syria/
  3. BLANCHARD Christopher M., “The Islamic Traditions of Wahhabism and Salafiyya”, CRS Report for Congress, January 24,2008; accessed June 25,2017: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RS21695.pdf
  4. BUNZEL Cole, “The Islamic State Will Survive”, 2017; accessed August 12,2017: http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/07/10/what-comes-after-isis-islamic-state-mosul-iraq-syria/
  5. COMMINS David, “The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia “,2006; accessed June 25,2017: http://ebooks.rahnuma.org/religion/Muslim_Sects/The-Wahhabi-Mission-and-Saudi-Arabia.pdf
  6. CHOKSY Jamsheed K. and CHOKSY Carol E. B. ,“Unstable, Unruly, and Reprobate, The Middle East Today” 2016; accessed June 21,2017:  http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0043820016662744
  7. ESFANDIARY Dina and TABATABAI Ariane, “Iran’s ISIS Policy” 1 (2015): 1–15.; accessed July 5, 2017: http://www.hsafavi.ir/magazines/INTA91_1_01_Esfandiary_Tabatabai.pdf
  8. FRIEDLAND Elliot, “Special Report: The Islamic State,” 2015, 1–32, accessed January 10,2017 : https://www.clarionproject.org/sites/default/files/islamic-state-isis-isil-factsheet-1.pdf%5Cn
  9. GOODARZI Jubin M., “Iran and the Syrian and Iraqi Crises”, 2014; accessed June 25,2017: https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/iran_syrian_iraqi_crises.pdf
  10. GERANMAYEH Ellie “Is the Iran-Saudi cold war heating up?”, New York Times, July 27, 2016; accessed June 21, 2017: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/28/opinion/is-the-iran-saudi-cold-war-heating-up.html
  11. HASHEMI Nader, “Key Issues in Religion and World Affairs The ISIS Crisis and the Broken Politics of the Middle East,” 2016, 1–24. ; accessed June 23,2017: https://www.bu.edu/cura/files/2016/12/hashemi-paper1.pdf
  12. JEFFREY James And HENDERSON Simon, “Qatar Crisis: Worst Case Scenarios” July 6, 2017; accessed August 12,2017: https://www.thecipherbrief.com/article/middle-east/qatar-crisis-worst-case-scenarios
  13. LYNCH Marc “Three big lessons of the Qatar crisis” Washington Post 14 July 2017; accessed August 12,2017: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/07/14/three-big-lessons-of-the-qatar-crisis/?utm_term=.162f69800ac7
  14. NANCE Malcolm, Defeating ISIS, Who They Are, How They Fight, What They Believe , Skyhorse Publishing,USA,2016, P.13
  15. SMITH Ben, “ISIS and the Sectarian Conflict in the Middle East,” no. March (2015). ; accessed July 2, 2017: http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/RP15-16/RP15-16.pdf
  16. TOTTEN Michael J, “THE NEW ARAB–ISRAELI ALLIANCE,” 2016.; accessed June 21,2017: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0043820016673779
  17. TZEMPRIN Athina, JOZIĆ Jugoslav and LAMBARÉ Henry, “The Middle East Cold War: Iran-Saudi Arabia and the Way Ahead,” 2015; accessed June 15,2017: http://hrcak.srce.hr/159926
  18. THAROOR Ishaan, “ISIS will lose Mosul and Raqqa. What happens next?” Washington Post, July 5, 2017; accessed August 12,2017: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/07/05/isis-will-lose-mosul-and-raqqa-what-happens-next/?utm_term=.321b6495b6c2
  19. WEHREY Frederic et al., Saudi-Iranian Relations Since the Fall of Saddam, RAND Corporation, 2015; accessed June 10,2017:  http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2009/RAND_MG840.pdf

 

 

[1] Athina Tzemprin, Jugoslav Jozić  and Henry Lambaré, “The Middle East Cold War: Iran-Saudi Arabia and the Way Ahead,” 2015; accessed June 15,2017: http://hrcak.srce.hr/159926

[2] “The Middle East Cold War: Iran-Saudi Arabia and the Way Ahead,” n.d.

[3] Michael J Totten, “THE NEW ARAB–ISRAELI ALLIANCE,” 2016.;accessed June 21,2017: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0043820016673779

[4] Frederic Wehrey et al., Saudi-Iranian Relations Since the Fall of Saddam, RAND Corporation, 2015;accessed June 10,2017: http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2009/RAND_MG840.pdf

[5] Athina Tzemprin, Jugoslav Jozić and Henry Lambaré,Ibid.

[6] Dina Esfandiary and Ariane Tabatabai, “Iran ’ S ISIS Policy” 1 (2015): 1–15.; accessed July 5, 2017: http://www.hsafavi.ir/magazines/INTA91_1_01_Esfandiary_Tabatabai.pdf

[7]Ben Smith, “ISIS and the Sectarian Conflict in the Middle East,” no. March (2015). ; accessed July 2, 2017: http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/RP15-16/RP15-16.pdf

[8] Nader Hashemi, “Key Issues in Religion and World Affairs The ISIS Crisis and the Broken Politics of the Middle East,” 2016, 1–24. ; accesed June 23,2017: https://www.bu.edu/cura/files/2016/12/hashemi-paper1.pdf

[9] Athina Tzemprin, Jugoslav Jozić and Henry Lambaré,Ibid.

[10] Michael J Totten, “THE NEW ARAB–ISRAELI ALLIANCE,” 2016.;accessed June 21,2017: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0043820016673779

[11] Athina Tzemprin, Jugoslav Jozić and Henry Lambaré,Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Michael J Totten, Ibid.

[14] Ellie Geranmayeh Is the Iran-Saudi cold war heating up?”, New York Times, July 27, 2016; accessed June 21,2017: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/28/opinion/is-the-iran-saudi-cold-war-heating-up.html

[15] Frederic Wehrey et al.,Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Athina Tzemprin, Jugoslav Jozić and Henry Lambaré,Ibid.

[18]Jamsheed K. Choksy and Carol E. B. Choksy ,“UNSTABLE, UNRULY, AND REPROBATE, The Middle East Today” 2016; accessed June 21,2017: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0043820016662744

[19] Athina Tzemprin, Jugoslav Jozić and Henry Lambaré,Ibid.

[20] Frederic Wehrey et al.,Ibid.

[21] Athina Tzemprin, Jugoslav Jozić and Henry Lambaré,Ibid.

[22] Dina Esfandiary and Ariane Tabatabai, Ibid.

[23]  Athina Tzemprin, Jugoslav Jozić and Henry Lambaré,Ibid.

[24] Marc Lynch “Three big lessons of the Qatar crisis” Washington Post 14 July 2017;  accessed August 12,2017: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/07/14/three-big-lessons-of-the-qatar-crisis/?utm_term=.162f69800ac7

[25] James  Jeffrey and Simon Henderson, “Qatar Crisis: Worst Case Scenarios” July 6, 2017; accessed August 12,2017: https://www.thecipherbrief.com/article/middle-east/qatar-crisis-worst-case-scenarios

[26] Marc Lynch, Ibid.

[27] Malcolm Nance, Defeating ISIS, Who They Are, How They Fight, What They Believe , Skyhorse Publishing,USA,2016, P.13

[28] Elliot Friedland, “Special Report: The Islamic State,” 2015, 1–32, accessed January 10,2017: https://www.clarionproject.org/sites/default/files/islamic-state-isis-isil-factsheet-.pdf%5Cnhttp://www.clarionproject.org/sites/default/files/islamic-state-isis-isil-factsheet-1.pdf

[29] Nader Hashemi,Ibid.

[30] Ben Smith,Ibid.

[31] Jubin M. Goodarzi, “Iran and the Syrian and Iraqi Crises”, 2014; accessed June 25,2017: https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/iran_syrian_iraqi_crises.pdf

[32] Dina Esfandiary and Ariane Tabatabai, Ibid.

[33] Jubin M. Goodarzi,Ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Dina Esfandiary and Ariane Tabatabai,Ibid.

[36] Dina Esfandiary and Ariane Tabatabai, Ibid.

[37] Ishaan Tharoor, “ISIS will lose Mosul and Raqqa. What happens next?” Washington Post, July 5, 2017; accessed August 12,2017: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/07/05/isis-will-lose-mosul-and-raqqa-what-happens-next/?utm_term=.321b6495b6c2

[38] Cole Bunzel, “The Islamic State Will Survive”, 2017; accessed August 12,2017: http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/07/10/what-comes-after-isis-islamic-state-mosul-iraq-syria/

[39] Elliott Abrams, “The United States Can’t Retreat From the Middle East, 2017; accessed August 12,2017: http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/07/10/what-comes-after-isis-islamic-state-mosul-iraq-syria/

[40] David Commins, “The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia “,2006; accessed June 25,2017: http://ebooks.rahnuma.org/religion/Muslim_Sects/The-Wahhabi-Mission-and-Saudi-Arabia.pdf

[41] Karen Armstrong ”The spread of Wahhabism, and the West’s responsibility to the world” 2015; accessed June 25,2017: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2015/11/spread-wahhabism-and-west-s-responsibility-world

[42] Christopher M. Blanchard, “The Islamic Traditions of Wahhabism and Salafiyya”, CRS Report for Congress, January 24,2008; accessed June 25,2017: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RS21695.pdf

[43] David Commins, Ibid.

[44] Christopher M. Blanchard, Ibid.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Nader Hashemi,Ibid

[47] Athina Tzemprin, Jugoslav Jozić and Henry Lambaré,Ibid.

[48]Jamsheed K. Choksy and Carol E. B. Choksy, Ibid.

[49] Marc Lynch, Ibid.

[50] Ben Smith, Ibid.

[51] Jubin M. Goodarzi,Ibid.

[52] Nader Hashemi,Ibid.

[53] http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2015/11/spread-wahhabism-and-west-s-responsibility-world

[54] Nader Hashemi,Ibid.

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