Saudi Arabia & Iran: A Struggle for Hegemony in the Middle East
March 18, 2020
11:00am to 12:00pm

Read takeaways from this conversation here.

A teleconference on rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The story of the Saudi Arabia-Iran conflict is a struggle for hegemony in the Middle East that is increasingly inflamed by religious differences. This was further complicated at the beginning of 2020 with the United States’ assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, which threatened to escalate into armed conflict. Now the United States and Saudi Arabia are in talks on how to resolve the conflict with Iran.

  • The Trump administration has made some attempts at conflict mediation, with little success. Which actors should mediate in instances like this one? 
  • What is the way forward for the region? In the long term? Six months? One year? Two years? How does the emphasis on religious divides complicate this issue? Can diplomacy occur outside of the realm of religion or does religion need to be a focal point of any solution moving forward? 
  • Is this a regional cold war? Iran and Saudi Arabia have smaller proxy conflicts, but no overt direct war. If it is a regional cold war, what lessons can be applied from the U.S.-USSR Cold War?

Listen to the full conversation below:


Dr. Banafsheh Keynoush, President, Mideast Analysts

Banafsheh Keynoush is a Pacific Council member, a foreign affairs scholar, and an advisor to American private sector companies and policy centers in the Middle East. She has three decades of work experience in high-stake international diplomacy, and in policy and communications roles with the US private sector. Her book, Saudi Arabia and Iran: Friends or Foes? was published by Palgrave Macmillan in February 2016. Read more.

Antonella Caruso, Adjunct, RAND Corporation; and LAMEDINA International Dialogue Institute

Antonella Caruso is a Pacific Council member and a political analyst of North Africa and the Middle East and an adjunct at the RAND Corporation. Read more.


Dr. Jerrold D. Green, President & CEO, Pacific Council on International Policy

Jerrold Green is an expert on U.S.-Iran relations. Read more.


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