Saudi Arabia

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Unchanged Situation

Riyadh conditioned normalisation with Israel on Palestinian statehood, while Germany further loosened restrictions on exporting offensive weapons to kingdom.

Riyadh publicly toughened stance on price of normalisation with Israel. During regional tour, U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 8 Jan met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Al-Ula city to discuss war in Gaza and hostilities in Red Sea; Blinken said Saudi Arabia and other regional states remained opened to building diplomatic ties with Israel but Israel must first end Gaza war and work toward Palestinian state – marking first time senior U.S. official explicitly linked Palestinian statehood with normalisation. Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to UK, Prince Khaled bin Bandar, next day reiterated Riyadh was open to normalisation but “we can’t live with Israel without a Palestinian state”. Survey conducted by Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Nov-Dec found 96% of Saudis believe Arab countries should cut all ties with Israel in protest of Gaza war (see Israel-Palestine).

Germany supplied offensive weapons, citing Israel’s security. After U.S. officials late Dec announced preparations to loosen ban on offensive weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, German FM Annalena Baerbock 7 Jan said Germany would stop blocking sale of Eurofighters to Riyadh, citing its “constructive attitude toward Israel” amid reports Saudi Air Force had shot down Houthi projectiles fired at Israel (see Yemen). Germany 10 Jan announced it approved export of 150 Iris-T guided missiles, resuming arms sales banned in response to 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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In The News

15 jan 2024
What's happening in the Red Sea will have a huge impact on the current political process between the Saudis and Houthis. NPR

Ahmed Nagi

Senior Analyst, Yemen
29 nov 2023
There is a limit to how far Iran and Saudi Arabia can go in de-escalating tensions between themselves if the entire region is ablaze because of the war in Gaza. Bloomberg

Ali Vaez

Senior Adviser to the President & Project Director, Iran
18 aug 2023
The Saudi leadership is … aware of its domestic audience and the continuing importance of the Palestinian issue among the Saudi population and throughout the Arab world. DW

Anna Jacobs

Senior Analyst, Gulf states
17 aug 2023
Saudi-Iran rapprochement is still in its early phases, and it’s still very unclear how the two sides will address their many points of friction. Al Jazeera

Anna Jacobs

Senior Analyst, Gulf states
2 aug 2023
In the realm of US domestic politics, Saudi-Israel normalization would be a foreign policy win for the Biden administration. Al Jazeera

Anna Jacobs

Senior Analyst, Gulf states

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