Volatility is rising across the Middle East as local, regional and international conflicts increasingly intertwine and amplify each other. Four Crisis Group analysts give a 360-degree view of the new risks of overlapping conflicts that involve Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Lebanon and Israel.
Security forces 4 Oct raided three locations in capital, Riyadh, killing two suspected militants; govt next day said it had dismantled Islamic State cell. Gunman 7 Oct attacked guard post outside royal palace in Jeddah, killing two security officers; gunman also killed in attack. Ahead of Gulf visit late-Oct, U.S. Sec State Tillerson 19 Oct called on Saudi-led bloc to engage with Qatar to end ongoing diplomatic dispute and trade blockade of Qatar imposed early June for alleged support of Islamist groups including Muslim Brotherhood. UN 5 Oct put Saudi Arabia on blacklist for grave violations against children in conflict for its actions in Yemen.
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.
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.
[The ongoing civil war in Yemen] looks like a failure [for the Saudi kingdom]. [Crown Prince] Salman wants a success right now. He’s desperately looking for a success, I would even say.
There are now those in the [Middle East] who would like Israel to go to war with Hezbollah and fight a Saudi war to the last Israeli. There is no interest in that here.
There are so many fuses, so little communication, so many risks of something exploding [between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon], that there’s little chance of something not going wrong.
The Saudis have always thought the wrong solution for their problem with Iran and now their hope is the Trump administration will come in and tilt the balance in their favor.
[Saudi Arabia's blockade of Yemen] could have devastating consequences for an already desperate humanitarian situation.
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.
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