Quest for Regional Hegemony: The Politics of Ontological Insecurity in the Saudi–Iran Rivalry

Öztiğ L. I.

ALTERNATIVES JOURNAL, vol.1, no.1, pp.1-22, 2022 (SSCI)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 1 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/03043754221138186
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI)
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-22
  • Yıldız Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia has been unfolding over a long period, influencing the politics and conflicts in the Middle East. The dynamics, content, and form of the rivalry have changed dramatically following the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Sectarianism is frequently seen as the constitutive element of the conflict between the two countries. This paper brings a new light into the literature on the nature of the evolving Saudi–Iran rivalry. Specifically, it explains Saudi Arabia’s ideational balancing and threat perception against Iran by highlighting the ontological security narratives under which the Saudi–Iran rivalry evolves. In doing so, it draws on the fatwas (i.e., religious opinions), issued by Saudi scholars, as an empirical object of investigation, and explores how they constitute and reconstitute Saudi Arabia’s ontological security narratives. In this way, this work critically explains the ontological security regime in Saudi Arabia and the nature of the political struggle and antagonism between the two countries.