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The danger that Saudi Arabia will turn Syria into an Islamist hotbed

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The seesawing battles between Iran and Saudi Arabia have also recently extended into the international arena with the attempted assassination of the Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C. coming from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

For years, Syria has been the conduit through which Iranian influence has been peddled into the Levant. Iranian money, guns, and agents have flowed from Damascus to Hezbollah and Hamas, not to mention Syria itself.

Short of toppling the regime in Tehran, toppling Assad and replacing his regime with a more ideologically symmetric Sunni Islamist government would thus be the greatest possible prize in Saudi Arabia's struggle with its Persian foe. Not only would it remove Iran's greatest Arab ally, but it could potentially sever Tehran's connection to Hezbollah and Hamas.

King Abdullah staked out the Saudi position last August as the first Arab leader to castigate the Assad regime. While the Saudis escalated their rhetoric and began lobbying in Arab diplomatic circles for the creation of a united front against Assad, they also began to unchain their clerical soft power.

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