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Saudi Arabia

CrisisWatch Saudi Arabia

Unchanged Situation

Govt reduced airstrikes in Huthi-controlled areas in Yemen and mediated signing of agreement between Yemeni govt and southern separatists, also took limited steps toward reducing tensions with Qatar. Huthi forces in Yemen continued to refrain from further strikes into Saudi Arabia as indirect talks continued and UN Envoy Martin Griffiths 22 Nov reported 80% reduction in Saudi airstrikes in Yemen in previous two weeks. Huthi forces 17 Nov seized one Saudi and two South Korean vessels off Yemeni coast; 19 Nov announced release of vessels and crews. In response to Huthi strikes on coalition locations in Mokha 24 Nov, Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Ras Isa port in Hodeida province 25 Nov killed unknown number of Huthis. Saudi-led coalition 26 Nov said it was releasing 200 Huthi prisoners and reducing restrictions on Yemeni air space to enable medical evacuations from Huthi-controlled capital Sanaa; International Committee of the Red Cross 28 Nov announced successful repatriation of 128 Huthi detainees from Saudi Arabia to Sanaa. Following Saudi-led mediation between Yemeni govt and United Arab Emirates (UAE)-backed southern separatists, two sides signed Riyadh Agreement in Saudi capital 5 Nov; after signing ceremony Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said agreement “will open ... broader talks between Yemeni parties to reach a political solution and end the war”. Following UAE’s complete withdrawal from Aden late Oct, several thousand Saudi troops entered city, taking control of main coalition base, Aden port and airport. Govt sent players to Gulf Cup football tournament in Qatar to run 24 Nov-8 Dec, which it had previously planned to boycott. Saudi Aramco oil and gas company 3 Nov said it would go ahead with initial public offering in Dec with company valued at estimated $1.6-$1.7 trillion.

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Reports & Briefings

Saudi Arabia: Back to Baghdad

Also available in العربية
المسألة الشيعية في المملكة العربية السعودية

The Shiite Question in Saudi Arabia

Also available in العربية
المملكة العربية السعودية: من هم الإسلامويون؟

Saudi Arabia Backgrounder: Who are the Islamists?

Also available in العربية
هل تستطيع السعودية إصلاح نفسها؟

Can Saudi Arabia Reform Itself?

Also available in العربية

In The News

19 May 2019
Riyadh may not want war with Iran, but there are risks to this strategy of rhetorical confrontation. The Wall Street Journal

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
22 Nov 2018
Les deux partis au Congrès perdent patience face à la campagne menée par l’Arabie Saoudite au Yémen. Il y a des raisons d’espérer que le Congrès interviendra pour contrer MBS, même si Trump ne le fait pas. L'Orient-le-jour

Stephen Pomper

Senior Director for Policy
17 Oct 2018
Secretary Pompeo was put in an almost impossible situation from the outset: traveling to meet with people [in Saudi Arabia] suspected of having ordered a political assassination at the request of a president determined to sweep the affair under the rug. The New York Times

Robert Malley

President & CEO
10 Oct 2018
Although from a distance the U.S.-Saudi relationship appears rock solid, there are cracks in the foundation. The New York Times

Robert Malley

President & CEO
14 Dec 2017
Most people agree at this point that the Saudis are facing a legitimate security threat and that Iran is part of the problem. By continuing down this road, things will just get worse. The Washington Post

April Longley Alley

Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
14 Dec 2017
Nobody doubts that Iran has been helping the [Yemeni] Houthis. [But], nobody doubts that Saudi Arabia has been conducting activities that are violations of the rules of war either. The New York Times

Robert Malley

President & CEO

Latest Updates

Taking the U.S. and Iran Off Collision Course

A series of escalations in both word and deed have raised fears of U.S.-Iranian military confrontation, either direct or by proxy. It is urgent that cooler heads prevail – in European capitals as in Tehran and Washington – to head off the threat of a disastrous war.

Saudi Arabia: Back to Baghdad

Saudi Arabia has been forging links to Iraq since reopening its Baghdad embassy in 2016. Its adversary Iran has strong Iraqi ties. If Riyadh avoids antagonising Tehran, invests wisely and quiets anti-Shiite rhetoric, Iraq can be a bridge between the rival powers - not a battleground.

Also available in العربية

Iraq Rebuild can Help Abate Sectarian Tension Across the Region

Iran and Saudi Arabia are actively fighting one another in the media, through armed proxies, in cyberspace and with Western lobbyists. But in Iraq they should both see the case for détente.

Originally published in The Hill

Iraq’s Pre-election Optimism Includes a New Partnership with Saudi Arabia

After the defeat of the Islamic State in 2017, normality is returning to Iraq ahead of the 12 May parliamentary elections. In this Q&A, Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for the Arabian Peninsula Elizabeth Dickinson says the country’s cautious optimism includes hopes of a new partnership with Riyadh, balancing Baghdad’s strong ties with Tehran.