Segments in this Video

Valley of Peace (02:15)


Correspondent Martin Smith reports from Najaf, where a Shia cemetery contains five million graves. Some recently killed fighters were in private militias trained by Iran to fight Sunni extremists. Crowds celebrate liberating Mosul from ISIS.

Displaced Sunnis (02:21)

Sunni Muslims in some Iraqi cities welcomed ISIS at first. Ramadi mayor Ibrahim Awsaj says 80% of his city has been destroyed. Millions are living in camps; Vice President Ayad Allawi predicts civil war if they cannot return home.

Iranian Narrative (04:12)

Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution, based on Islamic law and anti-Western policies, began the power struggle that drives Shia-Sunni sectarianism. IRGC founder Mohsen Rafighdoost says spreading the revolution helps nations fight Saudi oppression; Iran considers Saudi Arabia a U.S. agent.

Saudi Narrative (01:39)

Saudi Arabia considers Iran a hostile, belligerent nation violating international laws and spreading revolution. Iranian foreign minister Javad Zabie points out that Saudis are funding extremist groups. Saudi foreign minister Adel Al-Jubeir says Iran is exporting terrorism and driving sectarianism.

Iran in Syria (03:50)

Over five million people have fled the war-torn country. Assad supporters in Aleppo credit Iran and Russia for helping defeat rebels. Iran is now rebuilding schools; pro-democracy activists say Iran wants to be recognized as a "normal" nation internationally.

Syrian-Iranian Alliance (02:34)

The Arab Spring inspired 2011 protests for greater freedoms. Iran sent military aid and IRGC advisors to help Assad crack down on demonstrators; both nations argue that the uprising was a foreign plot.

Proxy War in Syria (05:57)

Both Western and Arab nations supported armed opposition to Assad. Saudi Arabia supported Sunni extremists to defend against IRGC-backed groups. At a Shia shrine, Smith encounters volunteer Afghan and Hezbollah fighters. Iran supplies Hezbollah and pressures Israel through Syria.

Syrian War (03:21)

Assad has used barrel bombs and chemical weapons in cities. Saudi Arabia believes U.S. inaction, as well as Russian and Iranian intervention, have kept Assad’s regime in place. The Saudis have withdrawn; most Syrians want security and a cease-fire.

Northern Thunder (03:04)

Iran is emerging as the winner of the proxy war in Syria. In 2016, Obama considered a nuclear deal with Iran. Saudi Arabia led military exercises with a Sunni coalition to encourage ongoing U.S. commitment and dissuade Iranian expansion.

Proxy War in Yemen (04:42)

Saudi-led air strikes have destroyed most buildings in Sad'ah, a Shia Houthi rebel stronghold. Houthis took over Sana'a in 2015 without direct support from Iran; the Saudi-backed president fled. Saudi Arabia mounted an air campaign without consulting the U.S.

Saudi Rationale for Attacking Yemen (02:01)

Prince Mohammed bin Salman dismissed the Saudi-Iranian rivalry, but wanted to stop Iran’s activity in Yemen. Foreign minister Adel Al-Jubeir explains the need for defense in the border nation.

Relentless Bombing Campaign (03:10)

Learn about the 2016 Al Kubra funeral airstrike in Sana'a. General Ahmed Asseri says mistakes happen during military operations, but does not provide a number for Yemeni civilian casualties.

Evidence of Iranian Military Aid (05:00)

Saudi Arabia is building a military capacity to confront Iran, if necessary. Iranian officials blame Saudis for the conflict and deny involvement. Private weapons analysts say Houthi rebels are using Iranian drone technology.

U.S. Military Aid to Saudi Arabia (02:42)

American-made bombs have destroyed Yemeni targets. A cement worker has suffered since his factory was bombed. Yemeni civilians protest U.S. terrorism as Trump pledges $110 billion during a Riyadh visit.

Future of Yemen (03:59)

Al-Jubeir sees Saudi Arabia as making progress in Yemen. Iran does not take responsibility for its involvement in the conflict. Yemeni civilians are suffering a humanitarian crisis as a result of the Saudi-Iranian power struggle, as have Syrians and Iraqis.

Credits: Bitter Rivals: Iran and Saudi Arabia (Part 2) (01:01)

Credits: Bitter Rivals: Iran and Saudi Arabia (Part 2)

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Bitter Rivals: Iran and Saudi Arabia (Part 2)

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FRONTLINE traces how the 40-year rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia has fueled sectarian extremism across the Middle East for political gain. Correspondent Martin Smith travels to the battlegrounds of Syria, Iraq and Yemen to examine how the two powers have influenced the conflicts.

Length: 54 minutes

Item#: BVL191941

Copyright date: ©2018

Closed Captioned

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