Iranian soldiers marching during a parade in 2018 (Picture: PA).
A think tank has said Iran has become the most powerful country in the Middle East, despite greater defence spending by Saudi Arabia.
As part of the International Institute for Strategic Studies' 18-month study, 'Iran’s Networks of Influence in the Middle East,' fieldwork and interviews were used to examine how Iran projects its influence through relationships with regional partners.
The strategic dossier reveals Iran's strategic use of third-party force, stating: "No state has been so active, and perhaps as effective, as Iran in regional conflicts in modern times."
The study which holds over 200 pages of in-depth research, details Iran’s "networks of influence" in the region.
"The unexpected fall of the Yemeni city of Sanaa to Houthi rebels in September 2014," the report says, “provided Iran with an opportunity to inflict damage on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for the first time since the Islamic Revolution in 1979."
Despite hundreds of Israeli airstrikes against Iranian and Iranian-backed-group sites in Syria, Iran has still maintained small ground forces in Syria, Yemen and occasionally, Iraq.