Saudi Arabia and Iran – relative prospects as dominant regional powers
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Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika w Toruniu
Publication date: 2019-06-30
Stosunki Międzynarodowe – International Relations 2019;55(2):43-59
This article analyses the relative prospects of Saudi Arabia and Iran as dominant regional powers. It focuses on the following research question: which of the countries engaged in the so-called “New Cold War” in the Middle East – Saudi Arabia or Iran – best meets the criteria to qualify as a dominant regional power? The hypothesis based on this research question assumes that, when comparing Saudi Arabia and Iran, Riyadh appears to be the stronger actor and thus more capable of playing a regional leadership role. To verify this research hypothesis, the author drew on the criteria of empowerment formulated by A. Włodkowska: population-demographic, territorial (geopolitical), economic-technological and military attributes. Conversion of these attributes into numerical values and subsequent statistical analysis provided positive verification of the research hypothesis. Comparison of Riyadh’s and Tehran’s current relative positions as regional powers and their likely evolutionary trajectories, leads to the conclusion that Saudi Arabia exceeds its rival in terms of potential dominance as a regional power. The Kingdom is not only the largest of the most economically developed states in the region, but also enjoys favourable and prospective demographic and economic indicators, thus allowing Saudi Arabia to have the largest defence budget of all Middle Eastern countries.
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