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Evidence sessions held on Iran-Saudi Arabia relations

26 August 2019

The International Relations Committee is holding several evidence sessions on Iran-Saudi Arabia tensions, following up on its 2017 report, The Middle East: time for new realism.


In this report the Committee described the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia as a 'cold war' and concluded the rivalry was "mostly … political in nature" and that the rivalry did not serve "the interests of the international community".
Since the report there have been several developments that have affected Iran-Saudi relations, including  increased US support for Saudi Arabia and the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, the increased stability of the Iran-aligned Syrian regime since the ‘defeat' of Da'esh, the efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution to the war in Yemen, the increased tensions in the Strait of Hormuz and the assassination of Jamal Kashoggi.


Wednesday 4 September in Committee Room 4, Palace of Westminster

At 10.40am

  • Alistair Burt MP, former Minister of State for the Middle East, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister of State at the Department for International Development (2017-2019)
  • Lord Lamont of Lerwick, Chairman, British Iranian Chamber of Commerce

At 11.40am

  • Professor Ali Ansari, Director of the Institute of Iranian Studies and Professor of Modern History, University of St Andrews
  • Dr Sanam Vakil, Senior Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House

Issues to be discussed include:

  • The current levels of tensions in the Gulf and whether a US war with Iran is likely.
  • The extent to which the shift in US foreign policy under President Trump has affected the Iran-Saudi relationship.
  • Whether it is still possible to save the Iran nuclear deal, and if not, how its collapse would affect regional and international security.
  • To what extent Saudi Arabia plays a significant role in recent tensions, and how the current situation is viewed from Riyadh.
  • The effectiveness of the UK Government's response to both the challenges to the Iran nuclear deal and to subsequent rising tensions in the Gulf.
  • The extent to which the UK and its likeminded partners in Europe can play a significant role in alleviating tensions between Iran and the US and between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

 Further information