Washington’s stereotypes are well known. Iran and Saudi Arabia are theocratic monoliths born of the same Islamist cloth. A doctrinal divide has polarized the two states and destined them to repeatedly clash. But analysts rarely peer inside these two regional powers of the Gulf to compare their elites, political projects, state institutions, and social orders. In the wake of internal unrest and geoeconomic shifts, the challenges faced by Iran and Saudi Arabia are more similar than either prefers to admit. What can we learn when we place these two nations side by side?
Rosie Bsheer teaches in History at Yale University. She is a co-editor and frequent contributor to the news-analysis website Jadaliyya.
Farideh Farhi teaches in Political Science the University of Hawai’i Manoa. She is the editor of Power and Change in Iran: Politics of Contention and Conciliation.
Kevan Harris teaches in Sociology at UCLA. His first book, A Social Revolution: Politics and the Welfare State in Iran is forthcoming from UC Press.
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