Saudi Arabia

CrisisWatch Saudi Arabia

Unchanged Situation

Riyadh hosted meeting between U.S. and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), while media spat pointed to tensions with Egypt.

U.S. and GCC held meeting on counter-terrorism and security cooperation. U.S.-GCC working group 13-16 Feb held meeting in capital Riyadh that had been postponed in Oct 2022 following U.S.-Saudi tensions over oil production. Joint statement following meeting focused on threats of Islamic State (ISIS), Iran and Iran-aligned groups, while reaffirming “that diplomacy remains the preferred way to address Iran’s destabilizing policies.” Earlier, FM Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud 2 Feb visited Iraq and discussed Gulf-Iraq electricity connectivity, oil policy and regional security dialogue (see Iraq). FM Al-Saud 18 Feb reaffirmed need for new approach to Syria and dialogue with Syrian President Assad for humanitarian reasons, following deadly earthquake (see Syria).

Saudi-Egyptian media spat broke out. Saudi and Egyptian media pundits engaged in tit-for-tat verbal criticisms over deterioration of Egypt’s economy and Saudi Arabia’s decision to apply stricter conditions on lending money (see Egypt); Egyptian President al-Sisi 9 Feb denied conflict with Saudi Arabia. Spats surfaced after Saudi Arabia’s finance minister in Jan described kingdom’s new approach to providing aid to allies, moving from “direct grants and deposits without strings attached” to “working with multilateral institutions to actually say we need to see reforms”; another source of tension relates to delayed transfer of Sanafir and Tiran islands in Red Sea from Egyptian to Saudi control per 2016 deal.

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In The News

13 Mar 2023
We can see a de-escalation in the regional layer of the [Saudi-Iranian] conflict. It is a multi-layered conflict, with domestic and regional causes, not just a proxy war Financial Times

Ahmed Nagi

Senior Analyst, Yemen
14 Oct 2022
The US-Saudi relationship has gone through periods of intense strain before, but in my view the current low point represents a crack but not a rupture. AFP

Anna Jacobs

Senior Analyst, Gulf states
14 Dec 2021
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... Al Jazeera

Dina Esfandiary

Senior Advisor, Middle East and North Africa
18 Jul 2021
[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] expa... Washington Post

Elham Fakhro

Former Senior Analyst, Gulf States
10 Apr 2020
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 meet... New York Times

April Longley Alley

Former Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
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, Colombia

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