Experts

Saudi Arabia, Iran and the nuclear deal

Saudi Arabia has, in Iran’s eyes, been supping with the devil – and not with a particularly long spoon, for over the same period the Saudi monarchy has proved itself a major ally of the United States.

Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan
Photo by: REUTERS
That the Middle East’s two Islamic ”superpowers” are competitors for the religious leadership of the Muslim world is well recognized. Saudi Arabia, a key Arab state, contains both Mecca and Medina within its borders and is the guardian of the Sunni tradition of Islam. Its lack of affinity with Iran is acute. The Islamic Republic of Iran is not an Arab but a Persian state, its native language is not Arabic but Farsi, and it proclaims itself the custodian of the Shi’ite branch of Islam. 

The Sharia law that each claims as its legal framework varies considerably between the two. Iran’s version incorporates both the “Hadd” penal code of unalterable punishments for certain crimes and “jihad” – a call for Holy War which incorporates the obligation to convert the unfaithful.



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