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Dr Katherine Harvey will reflect on the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and the influence of Iran in a talk at King's

In the years after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the new Shia-led Iraq gravitated into the orbit of its Shia neighbor, Iran. However, Dr Harvey argues that Iraq’s alignment with Iran was not a foregone conclusion.

Her research demonstrates that in the years after the invasion a range of Iraqi leaders made attempts to engage with their most important Arab neighbour, Saudi Arabia. The United States also put considerable pressure on its Saudi ally to engage with the new government in Baghdad. Nevertheless, the Saudis, and in particular the late King Abdullah, rebuffed these efforts, and instead chose to isolate it.

Dr Harvey, a King’s alum, argues that by refusing to engage with the new Iraq, the Saudis created a self-fulfilling prophecy. Abdullah, based on simplistic and even inaccurate beliefs about Iran and the Shia, regarded a Shia-led Iraq as naturally beholden to Iran. Iraq’s new leaders had initially sought to pursue an independent course from Iran, but being isolated and rejected by the Saudis they ultimately had nowhere else to turn.

A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The Saudi Struggle for Iraq, takes place on 23 March, from 18.00, in the Council Room, at King’s College London’s Strand building. There will also be a short reception taking place after the talk.

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Katherine Harvey is an adjunct assistant professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University, where she teaches courses on Persian Gulf security and military strategy. She is also a member of the Board of Advisers at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The Saudi Struggle for Iraq, her first book, is based on her PhD research at King’s College London. She started her career as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy, with tours in the Persian Gulf, Europe, and at sea.