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The rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran has shaped conflicts and disputes across the Middle East. This year, it's build over into two more countries, Qatar and Lebanon. I'm Dominic Evans, Reuters Bureau Chief in Turkey. President Donald Trump, in his first overseas trip, chose to go to Saudi Arabia, where he gave away powerful endorsement of the Saudi Kingdom and its tough line against Iran.
Just one month after his trip to Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia's powerful, young Defense Minister, Mohammad bin Salman was elevated to Crown Prince and heir. So suddenly a country, which for decades had been run by old, cautious, and conservative kings, had a young dynamic prince at the helm, who is impatient for change and wanted to stand up to Tehran.
One of the first actions in the summit was a Saudi-led alliance of Arab countries, which imposed an embargo, diplomatic, political, and trade embargo on Qatar, the small gulf country. Which has angered some of its neighbors by having the independent forum policy, and in their eyes being far too close to Iran.
It's a small country, but it's not without friends in the region. Turkey carried out joint military exercises with Qatar and promised to increase trade. That, combined with Qatar's phenomenal wealth, helps cushion the impact, as the year draws to an end, Doha remains defiant. In Lebanon, the Saudi backed Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, shocked the Arab world in November by announcing his resignation from Saudi Arabia, in a speech which echoed much of the Saudi criticism of Iran.
And his resignation, if carried through, would have brought down a coalition government, which included the Iran backed Hezbollah. Once he left Saudi Arabia and got back to Beirut, Hariri resented his resignation, in a move which really was a setback to Saudi policy in the region. Saudi Arabia and Iran are on opposing sides in many, many conflicts across the region, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Yemen.
They will continue in 2018 and anyone of them could be the sight or the trigger of wider escalation between the two countries.>>