There distinction between the Saudi and Iranian led

There is a cold war taking place in the middle east. Being one of the most complex regions of the world, there are various wars happening. Armed militia groups and terrorist groups are wreaking havoc across borders. Within all the uprisings, civil wars, and insurgencies, it seems that there is more to it than meets the eye. Saudi Arabia and Iran always appear to be somehow involved. They are rivaling countries, and use proxy warfare in numerous countries. Although the Saudis and Iranians never actually declared war on each other, they do fight indirectly. They do this by choosing opposing sides in other countries, and supplying them with weapons, logistics, and money. This is what proxy warfare is. These smaller and poorer countries cannot function properly with two more powerful countries controlling them. The tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran really took place after the Iranian revolution in 1979. Up until this point, they were both fairly powerful oil-based countries. The recent revolution terrified Saudi Arabia, as they thought that their own people would become inspired by the revolution. The other tension was a religious one as well. The Saudis had claimed themselves as the leaders of the muslim world. This was largely due to the fact that Islam’s two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, are found in Saudi Arabia. However, the Iranians felt as though they were at the top because of their recent revolution. As a result, they were on two different sides: the Shia Iranians and the Sunni Saudis. The distinction between the Saudi and Iranian led parties have been made very clear in multiple countries, such as Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. One of the newest wars that they have been using proxy warfare in is Yemen. Within all these countries, the pressure that both sides put on is what causes them to eventually collapse.The war in Syria is by far one of the more complex wars in the middle east. It started in March of 2011, when a group of teenagers were arrested and tortured. At the time, there were pro-democracy protests against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Security forces opened fire against protesters, and from there Syria began to go down a dark path. Shortly after in July, hundreds of thousands began to take a stance. And soon, they would begin to arm themselves. According to the article “Syria: The story of the conflict” by Lucy Rodgers, David Gritten, James Offer and Patrick Asare, “By June 2013, the UN said 90,000 people had been killed in the conflict. By August 2015, that figure had climbed to 250,000, according to activists and the UN.”  The turmoil in Syria was the perfect battle ground for Saudi Arabia and Iran. They were each able to play a role in their side of the country that they supported. In the article “How to understand Syria’s ‘proxy war’ – and who’s fighting for whom” by Simon Mabon, “Saudi Arabia has supported Syrian opposition groups to challenge Bashar al-Assad, a longtime Iranian ally. In contrast, Iran’s continued support of Assad was facilitated by the involvement of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Party of God, which was created with Iranian support in 1982.” Iran’s involvement in the war is critical for Bashar al-Assad, as they support him with daily cargo flights and soldiers. On the other side, persian gulf states as well as Saudi Arabia support the Syrian opposition groups by sending them money and weapons. To counteract this, Iran began to sending Lebanese Hezbollah militias to directly fight alongside Bashar al-Assad. This only increases the volatile nature of the war. Along the Saudi-Iranian proxy warfare, there are also other countries joining in. The United States backs the Saudi’s, while Russia backs the Iranians. According to Mohammed Bazzi in his article “The Growing U.S.-Iran Proxy Fight in Syria”, “Since President Donald Trump took office, the U.S. military has struck the Syrian regime or its allies at least five times, in most cases to protect U.S.-backed rebels and their American advisers.” In turn, this angers Russia. They then threatened to to treat all coalition planes in Syria as potential targets. The Syrian civil war has obviously gone on for too long, but will all the different stronger countries influencing it, there seems to be no end in sight. Another country that has faced proxy warfare in Iraq. In 1980, Iraq attempted to invade the border that they shared with Iran. However, when the war turned and Iran began to win, the Saudis started to create a prominent role in the matter. They helped Iraq by providing weapons, money, and logistical help. They helped until 1988, and by this time almost a million people have died. The feud escalated when the Iranians blamed Saudi Arabia for the war. Nearly fifteen years later, Iraq yet again became the scene of a proxy war. The war started in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq by a United States-led coalition that overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein. Neither Iran or Saudi Arabia wanted the United States to step in. When the US failed to manage the area, “widespread sectarian violence between Shias and Sunnis, as well as a lengthy insurgency against U.S. and coalition forces. Many violent insurgent groups were supported by Iran and al-Qaeda in Iraq.” Soon, various militant groups began to take place throughout Iraq. With all of the chaos, radical Islamist groups were able to take a foothold and gain power. Saudi Arabia and Iran took this as a chance to try and gain power. While Iran sent money and weapons to the Shia militant groups, Saudi Arabia sent them to the Sunni groups. The other proxy warfare in this country was between the United States and Russia. The United States initially invaded to overthrow Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq. However, Russia did not agree with this. According to www.wikipedia.com, “It was the Russians who helped Saddam Hussein to ‘clean up’ his weapons of mass destruction stockpiles ‘to prevent the United States from discovering them.'” Yet again, larger countries use the turmoil of others in order to fight for their agendas. Iraq was one of the perfect sites for the Saudi-Iranian and US-Russian cold wars to take place. The current crisis in Yemen started as an attempt to bring stability through a political transition.  After the Arab springs were able to overthrow dictators across the middle east, Yemenis were ready for change as well. An uprising forced its longtime president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to hand over power to Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, his deputy, in 2011. However, this attempt failed. Soon, Yemen started to face unemployment, food insecurity, suicide bombings, and a separatist movement in the south. Through this change of power, the Houthis, a political Shia rebel group, were able to enter the capital, Sanaa, and set up street camps and roadblocks in September 2014. They started as a group looking for equal opportunities and to be represented within the Yemeni government. Later in the next year, Houthi rebels and former president Saleh’s loyalists tried to take control of the whole country. As a result, Hadi was forced to flee to Saudi Arabia.Saudi Arabia began to fear that sharing a border with a new Shia country would be an opportunity for Iran to gain a foothold on their border. Although Iran denies any involvement in the Yemen civil war, there are ties to Hezbollah, a Shia Islamist political party and militant group based in Lebanon. Saudi Arabia’s fear has caused devastating airstrikes against the civilians of Yemen. Not only are hospitals, schools, villages, and markets being targeted, but the ports are being blockaded. As a result, Yemenis are not getting the aid that they need. The US backs Saudi Arabia, and supplies them with arms, military aid, and training them on how to use American planes and tanks. They also are providing cluster bombs, which are banned by most of the international community. Not only that, but the planes that the US are providing are the main factor in what the Saudis are using to bomb Yemen. The US also refuels those planes mid-air, allowing for the attacks to go on for even longer. The Russian involvement in the war is much different. They express their feelings of sympathy towards the Houthis, yet are not publicly helping them. This is because of the pressure they get from their involvement in the aforementioned Syrian war. Overall, the crisis in Yemen is clearly affected by the proxy warfare taking place. The tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran is extraordinarily sensitive. Both countries hold a stubborn view on their mission to be the leading power of the middle east. However, there was one very significant step towards peace that happened in December of 2017. According to Akbar Shahid Ahmed in his article “Inside The Real (And Really Secret) Middle East Peace Process”, “Iran established something close to a diplomatic presence in Saudi Arabia for the first time in nearly two years. The Saudis, for their part, got an equivalent not-quite-embassy in Iran. Suddenly, two regional powerhouses whose rivalry had caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and untold global instability seemed a little closer to peace ? courtesy of Switzerland, which announced on Oct. 25 that it would represent Saudi interests in Iran and vice versa.” The process relies on trust, confidentiality and good faith. In the past, it was almost impossible to get any real progress done due to the volatile relationship between the two countries. Although there is still incredible tension, the fact that the countries are opening up to a peace talk is a great feat. On the other hand, the relationship between the United States and Russia is quite different. Both sides often accuse the other of violating the peace treaty that they had agreed on. However, the relationship between Russia and the US is not as impactful in the middle east as the one between Saudi Arabia and Iran. In the end, the only way to truly solve the problem is to get both countries to understand that the other does not have to be enemy. Slowly, but surely, this is a possible strategy for creating peace in the middle east.  

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