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For four decades Saudi Arabia and Iran have vied for influence in the Muslim world. At the heart of this ongoing Cold War between Riyadh and Tehran lie the Sunni–Shia divide, and the two countries intertwined histories. Saudis see this as a conflict between Sunni and Shia; Iran’s ruling clerics view it as one between their own Islamic Republic and an illegitimate monarchy. This foundational schism has played out in a geopolitical competition for dominance in the region: Iran has expanded its influence in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, while Saudi Arabia’s hyperactive crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman, has intervened in Yemen, isolated Qatar and destabilised Lebanon. Dilip Hiro examines the toxic rivalry between the two countries, tracing its roots and asking whether this Islamic Cold War is likely to end any time soon.

About the Author

Dilip Hiro is a full-time writer, journalist, and commentator. He was the chief analyst for the Rome-based Inter Press Service Agency (1992–99), and later for Gemini News (1999–2002). He is also a frequent contributor to The Guardian’s Comment is Free and Yale Global. Among his more than two dozen books is the acclaimed Iran Under the Ayatollahs (1985). His Secrets and Lies: Operation Iraqi Freedom and After was chosen as the Financial Times’ Best Politics and Religion Book of the Year and long-listed for the Orwell Prize.

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