The Iran-Saudi Arabia Conflict Explained in Three Maps

The Iranians and Saudis don’t like each other, and their cold war has been one of many unintended consequences of America’s failed conquest of Iraq. The Iranian-Saudi rivalry is the undercurrent driving the mass slaughter that has occurred across the Levant and Mesopotamia for the better part of a decade now. To understand why the leaders of these two countries hate one another, let’s first look at the distribution of Sunni and Shi’a Muslims in the Near East.

Credit: Vox.com
Credit: Vox.com

…now, the distribution of oil fields…

Oil Fields
Oil Fields

…and then the political boundaries.

An increasingly inaccurate and irrelevant political map of the region
An increasingly inaccurate and irrelevant political map of the region

As you can see, a high percentage of Saudi oil happens to be in the Shi’a-populated areas of their country. Saudi Arabia’s rulers are ultraconservative religious authoritarians of the Sunni conviction who unabashedly and colorfully display their interpretation of the Islamic religion without compromise. Naturally, such a ruling caste maintains a persistent paranoia that their Shi’a citizens will defect and take the oil under their feet with them with the assistance of the equally ultraconservative, ambitious, and revolutionary Shi’a Iran.

The American “restructuring” of the Iraqi political map and subsequent formation of a Shi’a-led government in Baghdad has created a launching pad for the projection of Iranian influence into Saudi territory.

So that’s the conflict in a nutshell.

Here’s a bonus map showing Saudi oil fields in more detail:

Click to zoom in

Somewhere beyond the clouds in Dinosaur Heaven, a Brontosaurus gazes down at the new kings of the food chain and weeps.

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