Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Miner

Second Advisor

Dr. Victoria Hightower

Third Advisor

Larry Morton


The main goal for this thesis is to review how the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen’s civil war can be explained through the international relations theory Classical Realism. Studying Iran and Saudi Arabia’s rivalry is important for academic study because it creates an imbalance of power in the Middle East and intensifies security issues in the region. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia hold the most influential economic and political systems in the Middle East, presenting a dilemma for power and security between the two. There most recent example of this rivalry can be seen through their engagement in the Yemeni civil war. By invading the state sovereignty of Yemen to conduct a proxy war, Iran and Saudi Arabia have exemplified their desire to obtain regional hegemony. In this paper, I will utilize the zero-sum game and security dilemma, to explain Iran and Saudi Arabia’s motivations and participation in the Yemeni civil war. Furthermore, I will argue that Iran and Saudi Arabia are utilizing Yemen to obtain geostrategic power in their race towards regional hegemony.