Middle East May elections: Iran-Saudi proxy confrontation

How will rising tensions between Riyadh and Tehran play out in upcoming Iraqi and Lebanese polls?

Tuesday, April 17, 15:00 UK / 10:00 EDT

With US President Donald Trump appointing new Iran ‘hawks’ to high office, Saudi Arabia -- whose Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recently said the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic was “worse than Hitler” -- is feeling emboldened in its regional programme to roll back Tehran’s influence.

This could play out in the countries where the two regional hegemons have long battled for influence, including Lebanon and Iraq, where parliamentary elections are due on May 6 and May 12, respectively. At the same time, Trump needs to decide whether to kill the Iran nuclear deal at last, and the situations in Yemen and Gaza are heating up.

In the wake of those crucial announcements, an Oxford Analytica expert team will answer your questions on the outlook for the polls – and on how Tehran and Riyadh might react.

  • Will the two countries’ respective proxies in Beirut remain loyal?
  • Could the electoral law introducing proportional representation give more space to reformist, non-aligned parties?
  • How will Baghdad’s rival Shia factions move towards or away from Tehran as the date approaches, and in the post-elections bargaining?
  • What might be the role of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilisation Units in future Iraqi politics?
  • Will Riyadh seek to influence the Iraqi elections directly, or is it relying on promises of financial aid and resurgent nationalism among Arabs?
  • How will Iranian moderates and hardliners react to the increased international pressure -- and who will win out?
  • Is there a chance that heightened tensions could lead to violence?

Share your thoughts on the above and raise anything else that concerns or excites you about the upcoming elections in our client conference call on Tuesday, April 17, 15:00 UK, 10.00 EDT.