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Our Expert Voices conversation on what comes next in Iran vs. Saudi Arabia.

The passing of Iran's supreme leader and the Saudi king represents a pair of known unknowns: leadership transitions that are long anticipated and carefully planned, but whose realization will provide rare openings for jockeying by domestic rivals, testing by external adversaries, and possibly even mobilization on the streets. Each ruling system is likely to survive, but only if leaders can manage an array of new challenges such as the sense of political entitlement among Iran's post-revolutionary generation, the fissures within the Saudi royal family, and the structural distortions that plague both economies.

The bottom line: The strategic competition and sectarian tensions between Riyadh and Tehran will almost certainly outlive the senior leadership of the two theocracies. Both engage in pan-Islamic posturing, but sectarian absolutism is baked into the ideology and institutions of Iran's Islamic Republic and the Saudi monarchy. New leadership won't be inclined or empowered to rise above it.

Other voices in the conversation:

Go deeper

Kaine, Collins' censure resolution seeks to bar Trump from holding office again

Sen. Tim Kaine (center) and Sen. Susan Collins (right). Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are forging ahead with a draft proposal to censure former President Trump, and are considering introducing the resolution on the Senate floor next week.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction, Axios Alayna Treene writes. "I think it’s important for the Senate's leadership to understand that there are alternatives," Kaine told CNN on Wednesday.

Stark reminder for America's corporate leaders

Rosalind "Roz" Brewer is about to become only the second Black woman to permanently lead a Fortune 500 company. She starts as Walgreens CEO on March 15.

Why it matters: It's a stark reminder of how far corporate America's top decision-makers have to go during an unprecedented push by politicians, employees and even a stock exchange to diversify their top ranks.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated 3 hours ago - Technology

Apple's quarterly sales top $100 billion for first time

Credit: Apple

Spurred by strong sales of the latest iPhones, Apple reported it took in a record $111 billion in revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31, as the company crushed expectations.

Why it matters: The move showed even a pandemic didn't dull demand for Apple's latest smartphones.

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