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Saudi Arabia

CrisisWatch Saudi Arabia

Unchanged Situation

Govt sought to end hostilities between its allies in Yemen after United Arab Emirates (UAE)-backed southern separatists took Aden from Hadi govt, both nominally part of Saudi-led coalition opposed to Yemen’s Huthis; fighting raised tensions between UAE and Saudi Arabia, which remains opposed to Yemen’s partition. In Yemen, UAE-backed southern secessionists Southern Transitional Council (STC) 7-10 Aug seized control of provisional capital Aden and expelled pro-govt forces, including armed groups closely associated with Islamist Islah party (see Yemen). High-level delegations from Saudi Arabia and UAE, including Saudi King Salman and UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed, met in Saudi city of Mecca 12 Aug and jointly called for parties to “prioritise dialogue and reason in interest of Yemen”. Saudi Arabia same day called for emergency summit on Yemen’s southern conflict in Jeddah. Saudi and UAE FMs 26 Aug issued joint statement reaffirming coalition’s support to Hadi govt while condemning “defamation” of UAE. Huthis continued to launch attacks into Saudi territory: drones 9 Aug targeted Abha airport, inflicting no major damage; 17 Aug hit and started fire at Shaybah oil field near UAE border, prompting coalition to carry out apparently retaliatory airstrikes around Sanaa same day and around Saada 20 Aug. FM Jubeir and Minister of State for African Affairs Ahmed Qattan 17 Aug attended signing of Sudan’s transitional govt agreement in Sudanese capital Khartoum; Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman next day called Ethiopian PM Abiy and AU Chairperson Moussa Faki to congratulate them for successful mediation. Authorities 16 Aug said they had identified 3.67mn people in Saudi Arabia lacking proper documentation, mostly Ethiopians and Yemenis, and would soon deport nearly 1 million.

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Reports & Briefings

Saudi Arabia: Back to Baghdad

Also available in العربية
The Shiite Question in Saudi Arabia

The Shiite Question in Saudi Arabia

Also available in العربية
 Saudi Arabia Backgrounder: Who are the Islamists?

Saudi Arabia Backgrounder: Who are the Islamists?

Also available in العربية
Can Saudi Arabia Reform Itself?

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, Arabian Peninsula
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 of 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.

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

Qatar Punched Above Its Weight. Now It’s Paying the Price.

Doha has become a casualty of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’ fights with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. But don’t expect a war.

Originally published in The New York Times

Also available in العربية

The Shiite Question in Saudi Arabia

From Saudi Arabia's establishment in 1932, its minority Shiite population has been subject to discrimination and sectarian incitement. Beginning in the early 1990s, with then Crown Prince Abdullah's active support, the government took steps to improve inter-sectarian relations.

Also available in العربية