In recent years, the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran has become increasingly important in shaping the nature of Middle Eastern security. The execution of the Shiʿi cleric Nimr al-Nimr resulted in the storming of the Saudi embassy and the severing of diplomatic relations between the two states. Nimr's execution was the latest in a long line of incidents that increased tensions between the two, dating back to the time of the Shah. A growing literature exists that seeks to understand the nature of this rivalry, with a particular focus on its sectarian and geopolitical dimensions. This article reviews a number of recent works on this rivalry, which approach the discussion from a range of different backgrounds. Such approaches all seek to challenge the conventional narrative that the rivalry can be boiled down to sectarian differences.

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