Volatility is rising across the Middle East as local, regional and international conflicts increasingly intertwine and amplify each other. Four Crisis Group analysts give a 360-degree view of the new risks of overlapping conflicts that involve Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Lebanon and Israel.
Saudi forces claimed to have intercepted three ballistic missiles fired by Yemen’s Huthi rebels toward civilian areas in Najran region in south west 5 Jan, toward military base in Jizan region in south 16 Jan, and toward airport in Najran region 20 Jan.
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.
Saudi Arabia is at a critical stage in both its struggle against terrorism and its on-again, off-again efforts at reform, and Islamism is at the heart of both.
The Saudi regime faces one of the more difficult phases in its history. Fearful of change, accustomed to a system in which it holds enormous power and privileges, the ruling family may consider any serious reform a risk not worth taking.
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.
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.
Giving birth to a visible Saudi-Israeli alliance that will deter Iran is in many ways the very rationale for advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace in Washington and Riyadh.
[The ongoing civil war in Yemen] looks like a failure [for the Saudi kingdom]. [Crown Prince] Salman wants a success right now. He’s desperately looking for a success, I would even say.
There are now those in the [Middle East] who would like Israel to go to war with Hezbollah and fight a Saudi war to the last Israeli. There is no interest in that here.
There are so many fuses, so little communication, so many risks of something exploding [between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon], that there’s little chance of something not going wrong.
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
Originally published in The Daily Star
Originally published in Chicago Tribune