Originally published in Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)
Originally published in POMEPS Studies
Huthis continued cross-border attacks, while minister of interior visited Qatar’s capital Doha and talks continued with Iran. Saudi-led coalition reported interception of Huthi drones and ballistic missiles targeting various provinces, notably on 2, 4, 9, 11, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 Sept. Notably, Saudi-led coalition 1 Sept intercepted three Huthi drones over Yemeni airspace and 20 Sept announced destruction of two explosive-laden Huthi boats in Red Sea. Saudi air defences 4 Sept intercepted Huthi ballistic missile and eight drones over Dammam city targeting Saudi Aramco facilities at Ras Tanura (Eastern province), leaving two minors injured. In sign of continued improvement of relations, Minister of Interior Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef 4 Sept arrived in Doha on state visit and 6 Sept met Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to discuss bilateral relations and security cooperation. Meanwhile, Saudi officials 21 Sept reportedly met Iranian FM Amirabdollahian and other Arab and European officials on sidelines of UN General Assembly in New York. King Salman 23 Sept expressed hopes for direct talks with Iran in pre-recorded speech delivered at General Assembly. Media reports citing Iraqi officials 27 Sept indicated that Iranian and Saudi officials had met in Iraq’s capital Baghdad for fourth round of bilateral talks, first since presidential transition in Iran’s capital Tehran. U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan 27 Sept travelled to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates with U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in effort to push for ceasefire in Yemen.
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.
[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.
Although from a distance the U.S.-Saudi relationship appears rock solid, there are cracks in the foundation.
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