Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis & Resolution


Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Jason J. Campbell

Second Advisor

Dustin Berna

Third Advisor

Judith McKay


Peace Studies, Political Science, International Relations, Conflict, Foreign Policy, Iran, Reform, Saudi, Security


Since 1979, Saudi-Iranian relations have been tense due to their position as superior powers in the Middle East. Both countries have different values and perspectives in regards to diplomatic relations with the West. As a consequence of the new developments in Iran's foreign policy and the newfound openness to the West adopted by President Rouhani, the topic has proven to be of research interest. The primary concern of this research was to explore the effect of the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Middle East, and whether or not there is a possibility to overcome this conflict using the new political developments. For this purpose, a content analysis methodology was employed.

Through an analysis of data presented in the literature review, which consisted of scholarly articles, policy briefs, and books, this dissertation examines the complex political relations through which the pattern of the bilateral relations explain the conflicting narratives. This complexity is present in the political actions taken by Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as the domestic and foreign policies they are embracing. The findings of this study demonstrate the effect of this conflict in the Middle East. The research also proposes a number of possible recommendations on how to resolve this conflict through political openness and reciprocal agreements that target the citizens of Iran and Saudi Arabia.

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