The Arab–Iranian conflict or Arab-Persian conflict is a term which is used in reference to the modern conflict between Arab League countries and Iran. In a broader sense, the term is also used in reference to the historical ethnic tensions which have existed for centuries between Arabs and Persians as well as the historical religious sectarian conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslims, due to Saudi Arabia and post-revolutionary Iran seeing themselves as the champion leading states for Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims, respectively.
A noteworthy point in this conflict is that Iran has very positive relations with numerous Arab countries such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Algeria and Tunisia. Qatar also has established close working relations with Tehran, despite their differences of opinion over the Syrian civil war, with Iran and Turkey two of the non-Arab countries to support Qatar against Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries in the Qatar diplomatic crisis which lasted for over two years. In this regard, the rivalry and tension is often seen as being between Iran and Gulf Arab monarchies (all of which identify more with theocratic governance), such as the GCC states and their allies: namely Egypt, Sudan, Jordan and Morocco. The biggest rivalry in the Arab–Iranian conflict is between Saudi Arabia and Iran, who have been waging a heavy proxy war against each other since the late 1970s.
The Iran-Iraq War
The Iran–Iraq War began on 22 September 1980, when Iraq invaded Iran, and it ended on 20 August 1988, when Iran accepted the UN-brokered ceasefire. Iraq wanted to replace Iran as the dominant Persian Gulf state, and was worried the 1979 Iranian Revolution would lead Iraq's Shi'ite majority to rebel against the Ba'athist government. The war also followed a long history of border disputes, and Iraq planned to annex the oil-rich Khuzestan Province and the east bank of the Arvand Rud (Shatt al-Arab).
Although Iraq hoped to take advantage of Iran's post-revolutionary chaos, it made limited progress and was quickly repelled; Iran regained virtually all lost territory by June 1982. For the next six years, Iran was on the offensive until near the end of the war. There were a number of proxy forces—most notably the People's Mujahedin of Iran siding with Iraq and the Iraqi Kurdish militias of the KDP and PUK siding with Iran. The United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, France, and most Arab countries provided political and logistic support for Iraq, while Iran was largely isolated.
After eight years, war-weariness, economic problems, decreased morale, repeated Iranian military failures, recent Iraqi successes, Iraqi use of weapons of mass destruction, lack of international sympathy, and increased U.S.–Iran military tension all led to a ceasefire brokered by the United Nations.
The conflict has been compared to World War I in terms of the tactics used, including large-scale trench warfare with barbed wire stretched across fortified defensive lines, manned machine gun posts, bayonet charges, Iranian human wave attacks, extensive use of chemical weapons by Iraq, and, later, deliberate attacks on civilian targets. A special feature of the war can be seen in the Iranian cult of the martyr which had been developed in the years before the revolution. The discourses on martyrdom formulated in the Iranian Shiite context led to the tactics of "human wave attacks" and thus had a lasting impact on the dynamics of the war.
Iran-Saudi Arabia proxy conflict
The Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict, sometimes also referred to as the Iran–Saudi Arabia Cold War, Middle East Cold War or Middle East Conflict, is the ongoing struggle for influence in the Middle East and surrounding regions between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The two countries have provided varying degrees of support to opposing sides in nearby conflicts, including the civil wars in Syria, and Yemen. The rivalry also extends to disputes in Bahrain, Lebanon, Qatar, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Morocco, as well as broader competition in North and East Africa, parts of South Asia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus.
In what has been described as a cold war, the conflict is waged on multiple levels over geopolitical, economic, and sectarian influence in pursuit of regional hegemony. American support for Saudi Arabia and its allies as well as Russian and Chinese support for Iran and its allies have drawn comparisons to the dynamics of the Cold War era, and the proxy conflict has been characterized as a front in what Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has referred to as the "New Cold War".
The rivalry today is primarily a political and economic struggle exacerbated by religious differences, and sectarianism in the region is exploited by both countries for geopolitical purposes as part of a larger conflict. Iran is largely Shia Muslim, while Saudi Arabia sees itself as the leading Sunni Muslim power.
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- Arab–American relations
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