The on-going tug of war between Iran and Saudi Arabia risks inflaming a number of conflicts in countries across the Middle East.
Unless constructive engagement takes place between Iran and Saudi Arabia, conflicts in the region such as the war in Syria – seen as a proxy war between the two countries - will continue to worsen, Islam Altayeb, Middle East and North Africa Analyst ISS told CNBC in an email.
As the civil war in Syria smoulders, Iran and Saudi Arabia continue to arm opposing sides. Iran is supporting its client Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Saudi Arabia continues to back the Islamist rebels.
"In Syria the stakes are very high. Assad's fall would significantly reduce Iran's ability to support Hezbollah in Lebanon and influence events there" Soltvedt told CNBC.
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The conflict in Syria is aggravating decades of civil strife in neighboring Lebanon. Hezbollah – the Shia militant group and party backed by Iran – is unequivocally supporting the Assad regime. This is inflaming an already fractious relationship between Sunni and Shia Muslims in Lebanon.
While Iran is active in Lebanon through its ally Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia's influence is more limited. But rising tensions are pulling both powers in.
Last December, after the assassination of Lebanese official Mohamad Chatah – a pro-Saudi politician – the Saudis pledged $3 billion to the Lebanese army.
The rivalry is also exacerbating turmoil in Iraq. Post-war Iraq – which is aligned with Iran -- sits on Saudi Arabia's border. As Saudi Arabia encourages the country's Sunni Muslims to rise up against the Shia government – in a bid to limit Iran's influence there -- it is inflaming sectarian strife.