icon caret Arrow Down Arrow Left Arrow Right Arrow Up Line Camera icon set icon set Ellipsis icon set Facebook Favorite Globe Hamburger List Mail Map Marker Map Microphone Minus PDF Play Print RSS Search Share Trash Crisiswatch Alerts and Trends Box - 1080/761 Copy Twitter Video Camera  copyview Youtube

Saudi Arabia

CrisisWatch Saudi Arabia

Deteriorated Situation

In further consolidation of power, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered arrest of four family members and hundreds of civil servants, and late month govt retaliated against intensified cross-border strikes by Yemen’s Huthi rebels by stepping up airstrikes in Yemen’s north. Mohammed bin Salman 7 March ordered arrest of four high-ranking family members, including brother of King Salman, Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, and former crown prince and interior minister, Prince Mohamed bin Nayef, both accused of treason. In largest mass arrests since 2017, anti-corruption commission 15 March detained hundreds of public servants, including military officers; 298 people reportedly charged with corruption. In Yemen, Saudi-led coalition kept up military operations in bid to prevent Huthi forces taking control of Marib governorate in north. Saudi officials 15 March allegedly barred senior officials of southern separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) from flying from Jordanian capital Amman to Aden in south. Angered, STC leaders warned of further unrest in Aden if Riyadh failed to adjust course. Saudi-led coalition, govt, Huthis and other armed actors 25 March expressed support for UN Sec-Gen Guterres’s call for ceasefire in Yemen to counter potential COVID-19 outbreak. Cross-border war escalated late March as Huthis launched drone and missile attacks on Riyadh and Saudi economic and military installations in Saudi provinces along border with Yemen 27-28 March; rebels claimed attacks were in retaliation for Riyadh’s stepped-up air campaign in Jawf and Marib. Riyadh responded with airstrikes on Huthi positions in northern Yemen, Sanaa and Hodeida. After Russia 6 March rejected agreement among members of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut oil production due to COVID-19, Saudi Arabia 7 March cut oil prices by nearly 10% sparking oil price war with Russia. To slow spread of COVID-19, govt 7 March closed land borders with Bahrain, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates, 15 March suspended all international flights for two weeks.

Continue reading

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

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

Senior Director for 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

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

President & CEO
14 Dec 2017
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. The Washington Post

April Longley Alley

Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
14 Dec 2017
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. The New York Times

Robert Malley

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.