Riyadh and Tehran, 2006: Honeymoon on the Rocks
Despite record oil revenues, 2006 was not a great year for Saudi Arabia. Iran raced towards nuclear arms, while it joined Syria in destabilizing the Saudi-supported government of Lebanon through its proxy ally, Hizballah. Iraq threatened to become a Shiite-dominated state, representing a quantum increase in Iranian regional influence, and Riyadh’s main ally, the United States, foundered in its attempts to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. Saudi religious figures aired their unhappiness over Shiite ascendancy, and there were inklings of dissent within the royal family.