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Saudi Arabia

CrisisWatch Saudi Arabia

Deteriorated Situation

Conflict Risk Alert

After several quiet weeks, fighting intensified mid-Jan between Saudi-led coalition and Huthi forces in northern Yemen and across Yemen-Saudi border, raising risk of further escalation in Feb; Saudi mediators persuaded Yemeni govt and southern separatists to agree on new roadmap for implementing Nov 2019 Riyadh Agreement; and Saudi Arabia sought to calm U.S.-Iran tensions following U.S.’s killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. Cross-border violence between Saudi Arabia and Yemen’s Huthis reduced early Jan but, as de-escalation talks stalled, fighting escalated mid-Jan, including Saudi airstrikes on Huthi positions and Huthi attacks on Saudi positions. Following failure of Yemeni govt and separatist Southern Transitional Council to fully implement 5 Nov Riyadh Agreement within 90-day timeframe, Saudi officials 9 Jan oversaw agreement on “Phase 2” implementation plan; plan tasks Saudi military officials with moving rival groups’ heavy weapons in Aden to Saudi-controlled base in city. After U.S.’s 3 Jan strike that killed Soleimani, govt 5 Jan said U.S. had not consulted it beforehand and FM Jubeir 6 Jan called for restraint and de-escalation of regional tensions.

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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

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.