Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran heightened this past week after Iranian commander Major General Ali Jafari mocked Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it would be sending troops to Syria. His remarks are yet another display of the crumbling relations between the two nations of opposing Islamic sects.
After Saudi Arabia announced that it would be moving ground troops into Syria along with its current air strikes, Iranian commander Jafari took the opportunity to scoff at Saudi Arabia’s military strength. As a “classic army,” he claimed that Saudi Arabia’s troops were unsuited to combat against irregular militant forces like Daesh. According to Jafari, Saudi Arabia would likely be unable to successfully dominate the front lines against Daesh and face disastrous consequences.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have been openly hostile towards each other for nearly forty years, as Iran is a Shia majority country while Saudi Arabia has a predominantly Sunni population. The presence of Daesh in the region has invoked a lack of stability in the Middle East. Although both countries wish to oust the militant group, Iran’s efforts have mainly consisted of supporting the Syrian government while Saudi Arabia has funded rebels opposing the group.
These independent efforts are a step in the right direction but in order to defeat Daesh, it is essential that all able countries and troops in the region — and across the world — work together to back the same leaders and operations, such as the Saudi plan to stop airstrikes and begin ground campaigns. With deep-seated conflicts dividing the region, however, peace will continue to be elusive until this final step is taken.