Written by Aarav Gupta, a grade 8 student.
The Middle Eastern Cold War is also known as Shia-Sunni Conflict or the Iran-Saudi Arabia proxy war.
A cold war is a state of where countries are not indulging on open warfare but there are political differences and threats between them. But in this case there has also been open fighting in the region as well
Nearly a million civilians died in the Iran-Iraq war; 400,000 died in the Syrian civil war; 100,000 died in Yemen civil war (in addition 85,000 deaths due to extreme scarcity of food that the war brought). Middle East for decades has been a hub of civil wars, uprisings, formation of extremist organisations, failed states. There have always been 2 nations playing a key role in this conflict (Saudi Arabia,Iran).
Let’s start with where the name of this conflict come’s from
Saudi and Iran are bitter rivals and their motto is over seizing power in the Middle East. Both the countries have actually never directly confronted each other’s military instead they fight indirectly by supporting opposing sides in conflicts. This is known as proxy war-fare. Saudi Arabia and Iran act as a catalyst in unstable regions in the Middle East by aiding conflicts with army personnel, weapons, finances. Both the nations play a major role in instability in the region. Thus the name Iran-Saudi Arabia proxy war.
Both the nations spread hostility amongst each other with propaganda, threats and proxy war, this is known as Cold War. This is similar to the historic Cold War between USSR and theWestern bloc from 1945 to 1990. This agitation between Saudi and Iran is called the Middle Eastern Cold War.
Another division in Iran and Saudi is that Iran has a greater Shia population, where as Saudi Arabia has a major Sunni population. Shia’s and Sunni’s have actually always been peaceful historically. The Shia Sunni division is just a propaganda fed to the general population for hatred by both the governments.
The start of major problems in the Middle East
In 1953, the US staged a coup in Iran removing the popular PM, Mohammad Mosaddegh. In his placed they installed a monarch, Reza Shah who was westernising Iran. Ultimately there was another rebellion over throwing The Shah, making Ayatollah Khomeini the dictator who lead the Islamic Revolution. This newly formed Iran boasted its military power which led to tension between Saudi and Iran. After the Islamic revolution Iran tried to overthrow Iraq, Afghanistan and other Small Gulf monarchies like Bahrain and Kuwait.
Iraq under the reign of Saddam Hussein tried to invade Iran in order to annex some of Iran’s oil resource and overthrow the Islamic revolution. The war after years led to a stalemate, when Iran started winning Saudi Arabia started to aid Saddam’s regime to fight a proxy in the region. In 2003 US invaded Iraq, and overthrew Saddam’s regime. US however could not install a stable government. Without any government different extremist groups took over Iraq identifying themselves as Shia and Sunni militias. This feeder them ready made proxies, to fight war. The Shia initially was supported by Iran and Sunni supported by Saudi Arabia. This then became a significant pattern with Saudi Arabia supporting Sunni groups and Iran uprising Shia groups to fight the Saudis.
For example; In Tunisia Saudi Arabia supported the dictator while Iran provoked protests. In Bahrain, Iran supported the Shia leaders while Saudi Arabia helped the government to protect it from the unrest.
This forwards to today’s 2 most deadliest conflicts; the Syrian civil war and the Yemeni civil war.
In Yemen the Saudi government is completely supporting the Hadi government while Iran is supporting the Houthi rebels. In Syria Iran is fighting along with with dictator Bashar al-Assad together is supporting terrorist organisations such as Hezbollah fighting the Saudi Arabian proxies in the nation. Peace in the Middle East is something we can hope, however it is far fetched.
Written by Aupta.
Aarav is a grade 9 student of Modern School. He is passionate about writing. You can find him on Instagram at: @unpop_opinion