It’s a looming heavyweight prizefight that nobody wants to see come off.But should escalating tensions between bitter regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia break out into open conflict, Riyadh’s formidable military arsenal would quickly overwhelm Iranian forces in a conventional war, while Tehran would hold the advantage against any Saudi forces in a proxy guerrilla war, analysts say.The animosity between the two main pillars of power in the Middle East has escalated over the past week, when Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry ordered all Saudi nationals to immediately evacuate Lebanon. The move was presumably targeted at the growing power of Hezbollah, the Shiite movement long seen as Iran’s strongest regional bulwark against Saudi influence in the country.Iran says the announcement, days after the bizarre, abrupt resignation of Lebanese Prime Minster Saad Hariri, was engineered by ambitious Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. That has led to speculation that Saudi and Iranian military forces may be on a collision course.Mr. Hariri, in his first televised remarks since stepping down, said Sunday that Saudi Arabia did not seek a war with Iran but that he would return home only if Hezbollah agreed to stay neutral in the region’s simmering conflicts.“We are in the eye of the storm,” the former prime minister said, a storm that has focused even more attention on the two leading protagonists.
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