2_262014_aptopix-mideast-syria8201_s640x456Iranian support for embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad is producing a violent backlash against Tehran’s interests in the Middle East and fueling a proxy war with Saudi Arabia that threatens to further destabilize the region. The situation is a source of growing concern among U.S. intelligence officials and regional analysts who say tension between Saudi Arabia’s Sunni-led monarchy and Iran’s Shiite-controlled theocracy has become a dangerous subtext of Syria’s civil war and poses an existential threat to regional neighbors — particularly Lebanon. Saudi Arabia and Iran “view their influence in the Middle East region as zero-sum, and the situation in Syria is just another venue in which they are playing out their long-standing power struggle,” said a U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss sensitive matters. More