Iran and Saudi Arabia's 'hate-hate' relationship
October 11th, 2011
08:00 PM ET

Iran and Saudi Arabia's 'hate-hate' relationship

By Michael Rubin

Editor's note: Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School.

Iranian outbursts towards the United States and Israel are nothing new, but the Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington surprised many people. Iran's animosity toward Saudi Arabia, however, should have surprised no one.

Perhaps the only thing longer than Iran's animosity toward the United States is its hatred of Saudi Arabia. The two are divided not only by the Persian Gulf, but also by a Shiite-Sunni sectarian split and a Persian-Arab divide that goes back centuries.

Before Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran and Saudi Arabia had a love-hate relationship. On one hand, religious and ethnic differences plagued the two regional powers. On the other hand, both were traditional monarchies who found themselves on the same side of the Cold War, opposing communism and the radicals who threatened the status quo.

The fall of Iran's shah and his replacement by a radical Shiite regime, however, transformed the love-hate relationship into a hate-hate relationship.

Throughout the 1980s, the predecessor to Iran's elite Quds Force, the special operations unit that U.S. intelligence has fingered in the Washington plot, sought to undermine Saudi stability, often coordinating attacks and insurrection during the hajj, the holy Muslim pilgrimage which Saudi Arabia hosts.

During the same decade, Iran fought an eight-year battle with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, a war that killed close to a million people. What no Iranian forgets is that Saudi Arabia largely financed Iraq during the war.

The rivalry has continued into the Arab Spring. Bahrain is an Arab state, but the majority of its population is Shiite, not Sunni. When protests erupted in that tiny island nation, it was not the Americans who have a naval base on the island that confronted the Shiite protestors, but rather Saudi troops who drove into Bahrain across a bridge linking the two countries.

The plot that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Tuesday would not be the first time Tehran has tried to kill two birds with one stone by targeting both Saudis and Americans. In 1996, Iranian-trained Saudi terrorists detonated a huge truck bomb outside the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S. Air Force personnel.

After an extensive investigation, the FBI confirmed Iranian culpability in that attack, but the Clinton administration, because of its own desire to engage diplomatically with Tehran upon the election of reformist President Mohammad Khatami, ordered the FBI's findings withdrawn so as to prevent impediments to dialogue.

Alas, Clinton's initiative for diplomacy - like that of President Obama - went nowhere, not because of lack of desire in the White House, but rather because of a regime in Tehran whose ideology prevents it from unclenching a fist soaked in blood.

The Persian Gulf is always hot, but today's revelations promise to make it a much hotter place indeed.

Filed under: Iran • Saudi Arabia
soundoff (829 Responses)
  1. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    June 30, 2021 at 12:02 pm | Reply
  2. Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me

    June 30, 2021 at 10:06 am | Reply
  3. RV Repairs Near Me

    Great article! We are linking to this particularly great content on our website. Keep up the great writing.

    June 30, 2021 at 9:14 am | Reply
  4. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    Iím amazed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog thatís both equally educative and amusing, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is an issue that not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy I stumbled across this in my search for something regarding this.

    June 30, 2021 at 8:05 am | Reply
  5. ผลบอล

    My brother suggested I would possibly like this web
    site. He was entirely right. This post truly made my day.
    You cann't consider just how a lot time I had spent for this info!

    June 30, 2021 at 4:51 am | Reply
  6. RV Repair Shops Near My Location

    June 30, 2021 at 3:18 am | Reply
  7. Nearest Mercedes Service Center

    June 30, 2021 at 2:40 am | Reply
  8. RV Repair Around Me

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this post plus the rest of the website is very good.

    June 30, 2021 at 12:44 am | Reply
  9. Dodge Sprinter Auto Repair

    June 30, 2021 at 12:25 am | Reply
  10. RV Repair Shops Near My Location

    June 29, 2021 at 10:45 pm | Reply
  11. Handicap Van Repair Near Me

    June 29, 2021 at 7:35 pm | Reply
  12. Van Upgrades Shop

    June 29, 2021 at 6:13 pm | Reply

    do you need a prescription for hydroxychloroquine

    June 29, 2021 at 2:46 pm | Reply
  14. RV Repair Santa Ana

    Very good article. I will be going through some of these issues as well..

    June 29, 2021 at 2:09 pm | Reply
  15. Pump Windshield Washer Sprinter Repair

    Having read this I believed it was really informative. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this article together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    June 29, 2021 at 10:59 am | Reply
  16. Luxury Rv Shop

    This excellent website really has all of the info I wanted concerning this subject and didnít know who to ask.

    June 29, 2021 at 10:43 am | Reply
  17. satta king up

    hi!,I really like your writing very much!
    share we be in contact more approximately your post on AOL?
    I require a specialist on this area to solve my problem.

    Maybe that is you! Looking ahead to peer you.

    June 29, 2021 at 8:46 am | Reply
  18. betting picks

    I am not really good with English but I come up
    this very leisurely to translate.

    June 29, 2021 at 8:46 am | Reply

    I am no longer sure the place you are getting your information, however
    good topic. I must spend a while finding out more or working out
    more. Thank you for great info I was in search of this info for my mission.

    June 29, 2021 at 8:43 am | Reply
  20. RV Repair Near Me

    June 29, 2021 at 7:59 am | Reply
  21. RV Repair Santa Ana

    June 29, 2021 at 7:32 am | Reply
  22. Nearest RV Repair

    Can I simply just say what a comfort to discover someone who actually knows what they are talking about on the internet. You certainly know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people must read this and understand this side of the story. It's surprising you are not more popular since you certainly possess the gift.|teste|149962|2862&url=

    June 29, 2021 at 6:54 am | Reply
  23. Repair Dash Ac Vents Sprinter

    June 29, 2021 at 1:54 am | Reply
  24. RV Repair California

    June 29, 2021 at 1:32 am | Reply
  25. Mercedes Benz Sprinter Rv Service Locations

    June 28, 2021 at 11:43 pm | Reply
  26. RV Repair Fountain Valley

    June 28, 2021 at 11:24 pm | Reply
  27. RV Repair Around Me

    June 28, 2021 at 9:38 pm | Reply
  28. Rv Mercedes Sprinter Service Center Near Me

    June 28, 2021 at 6:58 pm | Reply
  29. Mercedes Cargo Van Repair Shop

    June 28, 2021 at 5:39 pm | Reply
  30. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I think that you need to publish more on this issue, it might not be a taboo subject but usually folks don't discuss such issues. To the next! All the best!!


    June 28, 2021 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  31. Sprinter Repair Orange County

    June 28, 2021 at 11:58 am | Reply
  32. Windshield Replacement Shop Near Me

    June 28, 2021 at 9:14 am | Reply
  33. Nearby RV Repairs

    After I originally commented I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the same comment. There has to be a way you can remove me from that service? Kudos!

    June 28, 2021 at 8:53 am | Reply
  34. RV Repair

    After I initially commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the exact same comment. Is there a way you can remove me from that service? Cheers!

    June 28, 2021 at 7:26 am | Reply
  35. Van Technician Shop

    Your style is unique compared to other people I've read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this page.

    June 28, 2021 at 3:19 am | Reply
  36. RV Repair Orange County California

    June 28, 2021 at 2:39 am | Reply
  37. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now

    June 27, 2021 at 8:30 pm | Reply
  38. RV Repair San Clemente California

    June 27, 2021 at 7:24 pm | Reply
  39. Christian Leadership University

    June 27, 2021 at 2:22 pm | Reply
  40. Leadership Experience

    Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the challenges. It was definitely informative. Your website is very useful. Thanks for sharing!

    June 27, 2021 at 12:54 pm | Reply
  41. Best Books On Leadership

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this blog. I am hoping to check out the same high-grade content from you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own, personal website now 😉

    June 27, 2021 at 8:58 am | Reply
  42. bob and sheri podcast

    Hi there! I could have sworn Iíve been to this web site before but after looking at a few of the posts I realized itís new to me. Regardless, Iím definitely happy I found it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!

    June 27, 2021 at 8:40 am | Reply
  43. dr. death podcast

    June 27, 2021 at 7:13 am | Reply
  44. Global Leadership Adventures

    You're so awesome! I don't think I've read through a single thing like this before. So wonderful to discover someone with some original thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This web site is one thing that's needed on the internet, someone with some originality!

    June 27, 2021 at 7:12 am | Reply
  45. Leadership Challenge

    Great web site you have got here.. Itís hard to find high-quality writing like yours nowadays. I really appreciate people like you! Take care!!

    June 27, 2021 at 5:31 am | Reply
  46. nosleep podcast

    Good web site you have got here.. Itís difficult to find good quality writing like yours these days. I seriously appreciate people like you! Take care!!

    June 27, 2021 at 12:44 am | Reply
  47. Non Profit Leadership Podcast Katie Prentiss Onsager And Jamie

    June 26, 2021 at 9:38 pm | Reply
  48. google play podcast

    This is a really good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Short but very precise informationÖ Thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!

    June 26, 2021 at 7:21 pm | Reply
  49. The Society For Collegiate Leadership & Achievement

    This is the right webpage for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You understand a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally will need toÖHaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a topic that's been discussed for ages. Excellent stuff, just wonderful!

    June 26, 2021 at 7:19 pm | Reply
  50. Thought Leadership Definition

    June 26, 2021 at 4:39 pm | Reply
  51. Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me

    I was excited to find this great site. I want to to thank you for your time due to this wonderful read!! I definitely really liked every little bit of it and I have you book-marked to check out new information on your web site.

    June 26, 2021 at 9:08 am | Reply
  52. RV Service And Repair Near Me

    Hi! I just wish to offer you a huge thumbs up for the excellent information you have got right here on this post. I'll be coming back to your website for more soon.


    June 26, 2021 at 8:17 am | Reply
  53. RV Appliance Repair Near Me

    June 26, 2021 at 6:34 am | Reply
  54. RV Electrical Repair Near Me

    Wonderful post! We are linking to this great content on our site. Keep up the good writing.

    June 26, 2021 at 5:38 am | Reply
  55. RV Repair Shops Near My Location


    June 26, 2021 at 4:56 am | Reply
  56. RV Trailer Repair Near Me

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the finest sites on the internet. I will highly recommend this blog!

    June 26, 2021 at 3:21 am | Reply
  57. RV And Camper Repair Near Me

    Next time I read a blog, I hope that it won't disappoint me just as much as this particular one. After all, I know it was my choice to read through, but I actually believed you'd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something that you could fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.

    June 26, 2021 at 1:52 am | Reply


    June 26, 2021 at 1:40 am | Reply
  59. RV Repair Service Near Me

    I'd like to thank you for the efforts you've put in penning this website. I really hope to check out the same high-grade content by you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own, personal website now 😉

    June 26, 2021 at 12:17 am | Reply
  60. RV Air Conditioning Repair Near Me

    June 25, 2021 at 9:25 pm | Reply
  61. RV Camper Repair Near Me

    June 25, 2021 at 6:18 pm | Reply
  62. Camper Repair Places Near Me

    You have made some really good points there. I checked on the web for more information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this web site.

    June 25, 2021 at 5:57 pm | Reply
  63. Jazmin Booher

    After checking out a few of the blog articles on your site, I seriously appreciate your way of writing a blog. I added it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my web site as well and let me know how you feel.

    June 25, 2021 at 5:52 pm | Reply
  64. RV Satellite Repair Near Me

    Next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won't fail me just as much as this particular one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I really believed you would probably have something helpful to say. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something you can fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.

    June 25, 2021 at 3:42 pm | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Leave a Reply to Van Upgrades Shop


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.