Recent changes in the dynamics of Yemen's civil conflict — widely seen as a proxy war between rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran — are making it very hard to predict what could happen next in the Middle East.
Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran ramped up Tuesday following another missile launch from Houthi rebels in Yemen aimed at the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia said the blame for the missile, reportedly intercepted on its way to Riyadh, lay directly with Iran.
"This hostile and indiscriminate act by the Iran-back Houthi armed group proves the continued involvement of the Iranian regime in supporting (the) Houthi armed group with qualitative capabilities," a Saudi spokesman said Tuesday, according to the country's press agency. Iran has denied the allegations.
An expert in Middle East affairs told CNBC it was worrying as it was difficult to predict where Saudi Arabia and Iran's rivalry could lead.
"We don't know where it's going and we can't really talk about it like an established dynamic with established norms. This is a totally new situation for the region and I really struggle to predict what's going to happen next," Marcus Chenevix, Middle East and North Africa (MENA) analyst at TS Lombard, said Wednesday.
"The thing to remember with Saudi Arabia and Iran is that this is very new. People act like Sunni and Shia (rivalry) is ancient but it's not actually. What's going on is that this is the first time for a very long time that there hasn't been an external arbiter in the Middle East who basically defines everyone's diplomatic relationships," he said.
"For a long time it was America and Russia, then it was just America and now there's no one. So there's a power vacuum and that power vacuum is pretty recent — the Iranians saw it first and Saudi Arabia has only really been engaging in this kind of rivalry for the last five years."