All relations can be held together solidly only when the decisions of one party don’t offend the other party. This primary basis of relationship was what the two nations, Saudi Arabia and Iran, couldn’t maintain leading to the deterioration of their good terms raising concerns in the Middle East and around the world. While tensions between the two nations aren’t an astonishing discovery, the situation reached a boiling point when the Saudi government executed 47 people from Iran accused of being terrorists, including a prominent Shiite cleric. Valentine Moghadam, a professor of Sociology and International Affairs and director of Northeastern University’s International Affairs program and Middle East Studies, elucidated how this conflict began and what the international community has in its hands.
Before these executions, the relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been fraught for a while. Saudi Arabia was too feared by the revolutionary zeal of Iran’s new Islamic republic after the year 1979. Occasional tensions were also there over the behavior of Iranian pilgrims during the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca, and their treatment by the Saudi authorities. Saudi Arabia’s intolerance towards religious minorities or any form of dissidence and their discriminatory treatment of the minority Shia population hasn’t failed in exacerbating tensions with Iran.
In conjunction with Saudi’s financing over three decades of the global spread of Wahhabism through the building of mosques and madrassas with full support for such Islamist extremist groups has further aggravated the concerns in Iran—and elsewhere. Saudi Arabia and Iran becoming each other’s competition to maintain and mounting their share in the oil market have also made them stand against each other. Saudi Arabia has joined Israel in opposing the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia and Iran take completely divergent positions on Syria. There is hardly any doubt that these two nations will take more than a decade to sort everything or just a few days to wage a straightforward war against each other.