Mason explores Saudi-Iranian rivalry in the Middle East with particular reference to the growth in political contentions post-1979. He covers work by Ghattas who provides a more social perspective on the fallout from increased Saudi-Iranian rivalry from 1979, including sectarian violence from Egypt through to Pakistan, and a more policy-orientated appraisal and outline for conflict resolution between the parties provided by Fraihat. Taken together, they afford a comprehensive overview of the causes and effects of this “conflict.” For a political science scholar, it is Fraihat who tackles substantive conflict resolution issues of enduring concern: rebalancing the regional order, reforming conflict strategies, mediation, Track II diplomacy, and bottom up peace-building, which may hold the keys to shaping the next four decades in more peaceful ways than the previous four. Given the limited avenues of exploration in these areas, a partial GCC state backlash against the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) during the Obama administration, and the political consolidation underway in both states, one might despair of a breakthrough. The Biden administration represents an opportunity to at least contemplate de-escalation measures resulting from talks such as those underway in Iraq in 2021. Meanwhile, the policies of small states such as Oman and Qatar provide insights on pragmatic foreign policy behavior, some of which could be replicated by the key protagonists.

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