Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Interactive map

A country-by-country breakdown of Saudi and Iranian influences in the Middle East Add to ...

Use the map above to navigate and zoom on Middle Eastern countries, and click on them for descriptions. Mobile users can click here

Countries that are more red are more influenced by Iran, while those that are green are influenced by Saudi Arabia

SAUDI ARABIA: Quiet on the home front

Popular opposition in Saudi Arabia placated with financial incentives, including homes and jobs.

Religious puritans oppose the regime for its supposed decadence and Western-orientation. Members of Shia minority, inspired if not supported by Iran, quietly protest for equal rights and opportunities.

No opposition group is sizable enough to make a difference.

Wildcard: Many new jobs are in state security, so the regime satisfies economic needs and provides more protection for itself.

IRAN: Suppressed on the home front

Iran’s opposition, reeling from questionable results of 2009 presidential election, is brutally suppressed.

That opposition is said to serve as a model for protesters in the Arab world.

While Tehran’s means of disposing of it is a model for many Arab countries’ leaders.

Wildcard: Iran fears that its own opposition will be reinspired by the successes in the Arab world and will return to the streets of Tehran.

LIBYA: Potential for intrigue

Moammar Gadhafi supported Iran in its 1980-88 war with Iraq, so few Arab states support him in his battle for survival.

Saudi Arabia has allies among the more religious elements of the rebels and may be supplying them.

Wildcard: Don’t expect Saudi Arabia to take in an ousted Col. Gadhafi as it did Tunisia’s former president.

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: Tale of two regimes

Hamas rulers in Gaza are happy to take moral and material support from Iran, while Palestinian leadership in the West Bank is closely tied to Saudi Arabia.

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is attempting to reconcile his Fatah party with Hamas, the group that drove him out of Gaza, hoping to detach Hamas from Iran and reconnect it to Saudi Arabia.

Wildcard: Will Israel break off ties to the PA over its reconciliation efforts? It opposes Hamas, but it opposes Iran more.

EGYPT: Iran’s new friend?

Ousting Hosni Mubarak costs Saudi Arabia its greatest ally against Iran (and shakes Saudi faith in Washington when Barack Obama supported Egypt’s protesters).

Cairo permits Iranian warships through Suez Canal and announces it is ready to restore relations with Tehran after three decades.

But Egypt can’t afford to burn Saudi Arabia, its biggest Arab backer, and will compete with Iran for regional primacy.

Wildcard: Egyptian Islamists are swelling in number: Will their fundamentalism lead to support of the House of Saud or criticism of it?

LEBANON: Powder keg

Saudi-backed Saad Hariri runs Lebanon’s caretaker government; Iranian-backed Hezbollah’s choice, Najib Mikati, tries to form new cabinet.

Mr. Hariri vows Lebanon will not be hostage to Iran’s influence; Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah says Lebanon should be proud of an alliance with Iran.

Wildcard: UN tribunal, investigating 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri, is soon to name those indicted. If it points to Hezbollah, Saudi allies in Lebanon could benefit.

JORDAN: Oasis of calm

A close ally of Saudi Arabia, Jordan’s King Abdullah has no intention of moving closer to Iran.

Even opposition groups, seeking economic support and political reform, don’t want to change the Hashemite monarchy.

Wildcard: Jordan’s treaty with Israel has not been an issue with protesters. Iran would like to change that perhaps by cultivating Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood.

SYRIA: Under threat

Popular protests continue to roil this Iranian ally.

President Bashar al-Assad, who hails from minority Alawi sect, a Shia-related group, is cracking down violently against protesters – while doling out incentives to Kurds and Sunni Islamists.

Should the regime fall, Iran loses the country that gives it a direct connection to Lebanon and to Hamas in Gaza.

Wildcard: Saudi Arabia, covering its bet, carefully shows public support for Mr. al-Assad, but may decide its interests are better served by the protesters.

IRAQ: One foot in the Iranian camp

Iran’s allies have upper hand in this Shia-majority country, which concerns Saudis.

The Obama administration says it will accept request to keep some troops in Iraq, but Iran ally Muqtada al-Sadr vows to prevent any extension of U.S. “occupation.”

Wildcard: United States plans to double the size of its already large embassy next year to 18,000 personnel.

YEMEN: A state in play

Popular protests, with the loss of life, reveal scale of opposition to long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Even Washington, worried about terrorists in Yemen, calls for Mr. Saleh to go.

Saudi Arabia, more worried about Iran gaining influence, is directly involved in mediating a handover of power.

Wildcard: What will militant Houthis do in northwest Yemen? This Shia group is encouraged by Iran.

BAHRAIN: Proxy battle

Sunni monarchy makes it a natural ally of Sunni monarchy Saudi Arabia.

But restive Shia majority, encouraged by Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, is demanding equal rights and political reform.

Nervous Saudi Arabia sends in troops to bolster Bahrain’s security forces: local dispute becomes a regional campaign.

Wildcard: U.S. Fifth Fleet is based here, and Obama administration would like al-Khalifa royals to resolve the uprising through reforms, rather than a crackdown.

QATAR: A delicate balance

Small emirate lies between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It’s a Saudi ally and host to a large U.S. airbase. Also has excellent relations with Iran, with whom it shares a major underwater gas field.

Seems unaffected by uprisings in the region. Supports Saudi effort to shore up Bahrain, and supplies aircraft to safeguard rebels in Libya. But Iran needs Qatar, its best friend in the Arab Gulf states, as much as Qatar needs it, so balance is intact.

Wildcard: Qatari royal family funds al-Jazeera television, a thorn in the side of many Arab regimes for its support of protest movements.

 

In the know

Most popular videos »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular