In This Review

Cold War in the Islamic World: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Struggle for Supremacy
Cold War in the Islamic World: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Struggle for Supremacy
By Dilip Hiro
Hurst, 2019, 432 pp

Hiro leaves no stone unturned in this account of Middle Eastern conflicts revolving around the Iranian-Saudi rivalry. Although he does not bring much new to the table, he treats the subject deeply and thoroughly. Hiro’s most controversial and important argument is that Iran’s nuclear program was directed mainly at Iraq, not Israel. Once Iran learned, after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, that Iraq’s nuclear program had been mothballed, Iran shut down its own, a fact reported in a U.S. National Intelligence Estimate in 2007. Therefore, Hiro concludes, Iran has little reason to revive its program. As for the Saudis, Hiro finds few redeeming features in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the kingdom, whose agenda Hiro sees as tantamount to “a totalitarian regime in the making.” When MBS, as he is known, accedes to the Saudi throne, he will probably have half a century in which to indulge his anti-Iranian impulses.