As U.S. leadership of the international order fades, more countries are seeking to bolster their influence by meddling in foreign conflicts. In this new era of limit testing, Crisis Group’s President Robert Malley lists the Ten Conflicts to Watch in 2019.
In joint statement on Yemen 13 Feb, “Quad” comprising Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), U.S. and UK denounced Iranian support for Huthis and blamed latter for lack of progress in implementation of Dec Stockholm Agreement. U.S. House of Representatives same day adopted resolution aimed at ending U.S. support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. FM al-Jubeir 10 Feb denounced what he called congressional efforts to curtail U.S. allies’ fight against “terrorist organisations supported by Iran and Hezbollah”. Moroccan officials 7 Feb said Morocco had frozen its involvement in Saudi-led coalition. Govt and UAE 26 Feb both pledged additional $500mn to UN 2019 humanitarian plan for Yemen. Govt 23 Feb appointed Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan as ambassador to U.S., first Saudi woman ambassador. Same day, Khaled bin Salman, outgoing ambassador to U.S., appointed deputy defence minister by royal decree. Govt 20 Feb began hosting joint military exercise Peninsula Shield with Gulf states including Qatar, to conclude 14 March. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman travelled to Pakistan, India and China 17-22 Feb announcing trade and investment agreements. Govt 12 Feb said state oil company Saudi Aramco will develop energy assets outside country for first time.
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.
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.
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.
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
Originally published in The Washington Post
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