Originally published in Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)
Originally published in POMEPS Studies
Warring parties extended truce in Yemen and U.S. President Biden announced visit to Jeddah port city in July. Saudi-led coalition and Huthis refrained from cross-border attacks after warring parties in Yemen 2 June renewed April truce for two more months (see Yemen). News 13 June surfaced that Oman facilitated talks in May on border security between govt and Huthis. U.S. White House 14 June confirmed U.S. President Biden will visit Saudi Arabia in July as part of first Middle East trip of his presidency; Biden is expected to meet King Salman and, informally, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In sign of warming ties with Türkiye, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman 22 June visited Turkish capital Ankara to meet President Erdoğan, in first visit to country since killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. Iranian foreign ministry 27 June said Riyadh wanted to resume talks with Iran; fifth round of talks were held in April. After months of resisting U.S. and European pressure to increase oil production, OPEC+ 2 June announced it would raise output by 648,000 barrels per day in July and August 2022.
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.
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.
The fact that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are becoming more willing to engage the Iranians will bring them closer to the other countries in the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council].
[Saudi Arabia can] reassert its role, particularly in the charity aid sector, which it always has been traditionally proud of [...] I think we can see [Saudi Arabia] expanding its aid into more Covid diplomacy.
Implementing a cease-fire [between Saudi Arabia and Yemen] is no small matter, and the first test of this is going to be whether the parties show up for this virtual meeting.
Riyadh may not want war with Iran, but there are risks to this strategy of rhetorical confrontation.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Originally published in The Washington Post