Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah is dead. This is not an optimum time for a transition. The Saudis’ massive expenditures to export the jihad doctrine have come back to bite them in the form of the Islamic State, a self-proclaimed caliphate that denies the legitimacy of the House of Saud (and every other government other than its own) and has vowed to conquer it (and every other country, but it is right on the Saudis’ doorstep). The Iranians, meanwhile, are always jockeying to become the leader of the Islamic world, and in that Saudi Arabia is one of their chief rivals. But Iranian-backed Shi’ite Houthi rebels have just won a major victory in Yemen, and Iran has just concluded a military pact with Russia.
Could the death of Abdullah be the Iranians’ moment? Or the Islamic State’s?