Iran’s foreign policy in Post-invasion IraqSaudi-Iranian rivalry and the major cause – the division of Shia and Sunni Aparna Vipin Table of Contents TOC o “1-3” h z u Introduction PAGEREF _Toc508110353 h 3Key Theories PAGEREF _Toc508110354 h 4Realism 4Liberlism 6Constructivism

Iran’s foreign policy in Post-invasion IraqSaudi-Iranian rivalry and the major cause – the division of Shia and Sunni
Aparna Vipin

Table of Contents
TOC o “1-3” h z u
Introduction PAGEREF _Toc508110353 h 3Key Theories PAGEREF _Toc508110354 h 4Realism 4Liberlism 6Constructivism………………………………………………………………….7
Security Dilemma………………………………………………………………8
Shia and Sunni…………………………………………………………………………9

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IntroductionMiddle East is one of the most complex regions in the world. Currently there are 4 failing states and 3 wars (Iraq, Syria and Yemen), with major powers increasingly taking opposite sides. Countless armed militias and terrorist groups such as ISIS, Hezbollah and Al-Queda are spreading violence across borders. The region has seen conflict after conflict going back well into the 20th century. But among all the uprisings, civil wars and insurgencies, two countries always seem to be involved- Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are bitter rivals, and their feud is the key to understanding conflicts in the Middle East. Interestingly, Saudis and Iranians have never declared war on each other. Instead, both the countries fought indirectly by supporting opposing sides in other countries (War in Iraq, Syrian Civil War and Yemen Civil War) and inciting conflicts which is known as “Proxy welfare”.

Due to this it had a devastating effect on the region as Iran and Saudi Arabia had strings attached to these countries as of now focusing on Iraq pulling to the extreme. Both Iran and Saudi see these civil war as both tremendous threats and also potentially enormous opportunities
A noteworthy piece of Iranian outside arrangement toward the new Iraq is affected by a provoked history of rivalry and unbalanced Sunni predominance over Iraq’s regular assets, potential monetary quality and key geological position. They are not only the two big powerful regions but at the same time they are also major oil producing power.

Key Theories of Iran and Saudi Arabia
Realism Theory in the division of Iran and Saudi Arabia
Realism is one of the oldest theoretical approach that has been in the international relations for a long time. The term realism is hard to compete with a paradigm or perspective which is called realism. It is a theory essentially about power and security. States relentlessly seek power and security because they see themselves in a self-help system. In this case both the countries wants to be mutually dependent. Iran and Saudi Arabia sees the world in terms of tragedy and evil because the word “power” controls them now.

The rivalry between Iran and Saudi has been started for more than 4 decades and this is due to the Islamic split – Shia and Sunni in which Iran is concentrating on the Shiite power and Saudi Arabia for Sunni.

It is considered that Sunni is the majority group of Islam and Shiites are different in size of the groups. The dispute started over Islamic leadership following the death of the Prophet Muhammad.
According to John J. Mearsheimer( a scholar), the states seek for total power with the ultimate purpose of becoming on the top as in being the Hegemon. The relationships between states are structured by anarchy. States cannot be reliably recognized as friend or foe on sight, and tragically, reveal themselves as foes only when it is too late to defend against them. Neighboring states cannot know any other state’s intentions, and so each raises arms and walls against the other, just in case. With unknowable intentions, but known shows of force and strength, each state falls into a race for power. If a state loses a contest, it is destroyed. Anarchy demands prudence. This insight frees the theorist from having to consider peculiarities of individual states. Culture and government do not influence their behaviors. Inner workings and complications are immaterial. Every state remains surrounded by other states, and no matter their character, they must compete.

As stated before, states are the actors in an anarchic system. Great powers are the specific focus as actors. Every state worthy of consideration can do some injury to its competitors. States are dangerous. States have no guarantees of the competitors’ behavior. Diplomats lie, regimes change. A state that seeks to shift the balance of power in secret is indistinguishable from the state that legitimately seeks to maintain the balance. These states are respectively referred to as revisionist and status quo. But, there is no goal that interferes with a state’s primary goal, which is survival. Survival is the preservation of borders and the maintenance of self-rule. States naturally pursue other projects, but they cannot reach completion after the expiration of the state. Lastly, states are rational actors. They can make mistakes, and incremental rational acts can still lead to catastrophe, but altogether the actions taken are secondary to the overarching pursuit of power.
This combination of certainties and uncertainties makes path of fear. Without order, armed states are free to plunder wherever and whenever they are able and expect no less of their competitors. The system pressures states to seek revisionist strategies whenever possible
Liberalism – Liberalism is one of the theory of international relations that refers to the independence of every individual. According to this theory, every international or interstate dispute can reach to the peaceful world. Liberalism mentions that everyone in the world want to have peaceful and happy life, but it is the government of the countries which interferes in international relations and creates problematic issues for their nation. In liberalism, the states are important but they give importance to other actors who operate in the global system which includes institutions, individuals etc. Iraq being in the middle of Iran and Saudi Arabia has lost its natural life due to the interference of the governments and the political parties who is creating problem to reside in Iraq. If either Saudi or Iran is ready for agreement to remove the conflict for the betterment of both the states then they could maintain a peaceful agreement and would not attempt to destroy the nation. This would also solve the problem peacefully by understanding the loss if Iraq’s lives in the war. Iraq creation is a combination of people from a Christian community or Islamic which consists of both Shia and Sunni.

It’s the thinking mentality that we agree how we act and how we treat each other. So for a constructivist you need to have a set of ideas in order to have international politics that focuses on the nature of norms, identity and social interaction between various actors in global politic system. Constructivists explains in a way that while all the events occur within the current political structure which exists, it is not only the structure but also ideas that urge these events to happen in the first place. For this instance, the rival is going on for the past 40 years and there are no signs of declining. Back in 1929, the future looked bright for the two nations they even had signed “Saudi-Iranian Friendship Treaty” and the diplomatic relations were on the rise but then slowly Iran had the idea of modernizing Saudi Arabia, but in response Saudi Arabia reminded Iran that 90% of the population are Muslims and they need to respect that. In fact, despite both the countries being predominantly Muslim, each has a different and opposing Islamic sect as the religious majority. Slowly the tool known as the “power” started taking in charge and it is ideas that determines how these tools are used. It emphasize the role of social constructs and identities in shaping great power politics by establishing the perspective and goals of states that guide their decision-making. These identities can be characterized by norms and rules that specify what behavior is appropriate. Constructivists do not contest that nations pursue their national interests; however, they conceptualize national interests much differently than realists. Constructivism recovers the elements of circumstance, interpretation, and social relationships in understanding this pursuit of self-interest. Material interests are tied to the identity of the state, which cannot be. Norms, culture, and identity construct the reality that gives meaning to human interactions and experiences, constituting the perspective in which actions are interpreted and consequently how they are responded to.

Security Dilemma
The ideological tensions and rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran in many places in the Middle East are creating a situation of a security dilemma in the two country relations. The anarchical nature of the international system is making uncertainty in the Middle East; uncertainty is developing fears among the states of the region; fear is leading to power competition and rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the two main ideological powerhouses of the region; power competition is leading to a situation of a security dilemma in the relations between the two states Each state thinks that by increasing its relative power it will be more secure. But the fact is that this action compels the other state to take countermeasures to enhance its own security. This situation of search for security is actually making the two states less secure. As Iran’s capabilities and power continue to grow, Saudi Arabia will be nervous about what this portends for both regional security and its own primacy in the Muslim world. And as long as Saudi
Arabia remains hostile to Iranian line of Islam Iran will become increasingly anxious about how much Saudi Arabia will invest in containing Iran.

Shia and Sunni
In today’s world, Muslims are represented as Shia or Sunni. In Iraq there is wide group of Christians and Muslims –Kurds the locals of Iraq are considered as either the two religions. The changes came together with Iran’s Islamic revolution of 1979, a turning-point in Middle Eastern history and especially in Shia branch everywhere.

The conflict between the Sunni and Shia began over 1,000 years before the modern states of Saudi Arabia or Iran came into existence, the Sunni-Shia Schism is critical to understanding the Saudi-Iranian rivalry. One key driver of the instability is the 1400 hundred year old sectarian split between Sunni and Shia. People are being killed indiscriminately as of now.

It is vital not to exaggerate the division. Sunnis and Shia share central convictions and have existed together for quite a long time – the hostility amongst Iran and Saudi Arabia is better comprehended as far as a power battle in the Middle East and past. Iranian involvement in the region’s many proxy wars as Iran plays the role of the less powerful actor standing up to a more powerful entity. Yet, socially constructed ideas, such as identity, are not enough to completely explain the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia or the behaviors through which the rivalry is played out.

Sectarianism has made them aware the policy priorities of Iran and Saudi Arabia. Each countries have shaped alliances with countries that share their version of Islam. However this is not merely, or perhaps primarily, a non-secular struggle.
Due to these issues there is a chance where Iran and Saudi could go in a war in the future.

Only after understanding the context of different aspects of the Saudi-Iranian rivalry, policy makers begin to think about peace or started work for calming down the distress in the area. The Middle East was going through an unstable phase from a long time. The strategy of the policy makers have a responsibility to reduce the pressures between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Terror groups, recognizing the power vacuums caused by instability, have taken advantage of the situation to expand their gains. Massive unrest in the Middle East must be better managed as its impacts have been and will continue to be felt globally.

Erickson, A. (2017, December 20). Analysis | What’s behind the feud between Saudi Arabia and Iran? Power. Retrieved April 05, 2018, from’s Foreign Policy in Post-Invasion Iraq. (n.d.). Retrieved April 05, 2018, from, J. C., ; Goldstein, J. S. (2017). International relations. Boston: Pearson
The Sunni-Shia Divide – Council on Foreign Relations. (n.d.). Retrieved April 4, 2018, from;CID=20CBE6CCCA7762C2214CED04CBD863CC;rd=1;h=yewd9gplZA4ATv_Mhr-eKvB5E0aM-FhbEwISr5WQOJ0;v=1;r=;p=DevEx.LB.1,5535.1