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Saudi Arabia

CrisisWatch Saudi Arabia

Unchanged Situation

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.

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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

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] expanding its aid into more Covid diplomacy. 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 meeting. 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
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

Interim Chief 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

Former 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

Former 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.

Saudi Arabia: Back to Baghdad

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.

Also available in العربية

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

Iraq’s Pre-election Optimism Includes a New Partnership with Saudi Arabia

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.