Saudi Arabia considers itself to be the Protector of Islam as they contain Mecca and Medina as well as oversee the Hajj. The Sunnis are the dominate form of Islam in Saudi and its main branch is called Wahhabism. It is a very strict form of Islam that is based on the literal interpretation of the Qur’an and allows for no other versions of Islam, like Shiism (StevenAU 2004). Iran has long been defined as the central power of Shiism especially following the 1979 Islamic revolution. Both nations are capable of polarizing the Middle East. The Saudis are allied with other Gulf monarchies, Jordan, parts of Northern Africa, and Morocco under Sunni guidance. Iran is connected to Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and involved with groups like Hezbollah under Shia guidance (Uncovered 2013). This grouping has been called the Shia Crescent by Jordan’s King Abdullah II and has been picked up by other Arab leaders (Manfreda, What is the Shiite Crescent? 2014). This idea is built on the premise that the Shiite dominated governments can come together to form political and religious ties that would weaken the Sunni states power. The crescent would run from Iran through the Middle East into the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula (Manfreda, What is the Shiite Crescent? 2014). Some fear that Syria may become the tipping point for forming this crescent. Therefor both have been sending troops and support to their chosen side. Saudi Arabia leaders spoke out about the Syrian war and asked for Muslims to fight against Hezbollah, Assad, and Shiism with the results of young idealist heading off to Syria (Nevaehwest 2014). Iran wants to keep Assad in power and has allegedly sent Hezbollah to fight for the Syrian government. Syria is important...
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Vallely, Paul. "The vicious schism between Sunni and Shia has been poisoning Islam for 1,400 years - and it's getting worse." The Independent. February 19, 2014. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/the-vicious-schism-between-sunni-and-shia-has-been-poisoning-islam-for-1400-years--and-its-getting-worse-9139525.html (accessed March 2, 2014).
Watch, Human Rights. "Iran: Lift Restrictions on Sunni Worship." Human Rights Watch. November 9, 2013. http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/11/09/iran-lift-restrictions-sunni-worship (accessed March 5, 2014).
Wehrey, Frederic. "The Forgotten Uprising in Eastern Saudi Arabia." Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. June 14, 2013. http://carnegieendowment.org/2013/06/14/forgotten-uprising-in-eastern-saudi-arabia/ga8o# (accessed March 4, 2014).
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