Saudi Arabia and its ambitious crown prince are looking ahead to a new world in which it will enjoy a more prominent place. Yet unless the kingdom makes further changes on both the diplomatic and domestic fronts, its aspirations are likely to run into roadblocks.
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.
What's happening in the Red Sea will have a huge impact on the current political process between the Saudis and Houthis.
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.
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.
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.
In the realm of US domestic politics, Saudi-Israel normalization would be a foreign policy win for the Biden administration.
The four-year blockade of Qatar by rival Gulf powers is over, but fault lines among these states remain. If the gaps are not bridged, the competition could exacerbate conflicts – and spark new ones – well outside the region.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard talks with Abdulaziz Sager, Crisis Group’s Trustee and Founder and Chairman of the Gulf Research Center, about Riyadh’s foreign policy and diplomatic efforts seemingly aimed at mending ties in the region.
On 10 March, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to restore diplomatic relations as part of a Chinese-sponsored initiative that appears aimed at reducing tensions across the Middle East. Crisis Group experts offer a 360-degree view of the implications for the region’s many flashpoints.
Dr. Abdulaziz Sager, Founder of the Gulf Research Center and member of Crisis Group’s Board of Trustees, talks about the revival of diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia in a deal brokered by China.
On 10 March, prodded by China, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to reestablish diplomatic relations within two months, after seven years of severed ties. In this Q&A, Crisis Group experts Dina Esfandiary and Anna Jacobs look at the emerging rapprochement.
Dialogue efforts in the Gulf have stalled amid rising tensions. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2023, Crisis Group explains how the EU and its member states can help revive Saudi-Iranian and other talks.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood speaks with Crisis Group’s Middle East experts Joost Hiltermann and Dina Esfandiary about the World Cup in Qatar, regional politics and friction between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
Israel would like to forge a military alliance with the Gulf Arab monarchies as part of its strategy for checking Iran’s power projection in the region. For Gulf capitals, however, the Israeli ambitions risk too much and offer too little.
Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.