Saudi Arabia

Muslim Causes vs. National Interests: Muslim Nations Make Risky Bets

| August 14, 2019

Saudi attitudes toward the plight of thousands of illegal Rohingya in the kingdom fleeing persecution in Myanmar and squalid Bangladeshi refugee camps help explain Saudi support for China’s brutal clampdown on Turkic Muslims in its troubled northwestern province of Xinjiang.

The UAE Withdraws from Yemen

| August 4, 2019

A UAE decision to withdraw the bulk of its forces from Yemen shines a spotlight on hard realities underlying Middle Eastern geopolitics. The pullback suggests that the UAE is preparing for the possibility of a US military confrontation with Iran in which the UAE and Saudi Arabia could emerge as prime battlegrounds. It also reflects long-standing subtle differences in the approaches of Saudi Arabia and the UAE toward Yemen.

Public Decency Law Puts Saudi Reforms in Perspective

| July 15, 2019

A newly adopted Saudi law on public decency helps define Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s vague notion of “moderate Islam.” It lays bare the pitfalls of his social reforms as well as his preference for hyper-nationalism rather than religion as the legitimizing ideology of his rule and his quest for control of every aspect of Saudi life.

Russia Joins Gulf States in Coaching Sudan’s Military

| July 9, 2019

Russia has emerged as Saudi Arabia’s and the UAE’s silent partner in assisting the Sudanese military’s efforts to weaken, if not defeat, a months-long popular revolt that has already toppled president Omar Bashir.

Clerics and Entertainers Seek to Bolster MBS’s Grip on Power

| July 7, 2019

A public apology by a prominent Salafi scholar sheds light on Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s version of “moderate Islam,” which appears to be an effort to shape the Middle East and North Africa in his image and replace religion with hypernationalism.

Soccer Emerges as the Potential Icebreaker of the Gulf Crisis

| July 1, 2019

June 5 was the second anniversary of the GCC boycott of Qatar. In a soccer-mad region, Qatar’s World Cup 2022 might turn out to be the catalyst to finally bring the boycott to an end.

Saudi Religious Moderation: How Real Is It?

| June 7, 2019

Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman is determined to promote an image of himself as a harbinger of Saudi religious moderation, but many observers suspect that the changes he has implemented are only skin-deep. His reforms may turn out to have more to do with public relations than with fundamental change.

The US’s Middle East Strategy Might Be Fraying

| May 21, 2019

Egypt’s withdrawal from the formation of an “Arab NATO” against Iran is a warning that both Israel and the US need to urgently rethink their strategy regarding the Middle East. Putting all its Arab World eggs in the Saudi basket could prove to be one of the more unsound decisions in the annals of American diplomatic history, and one that could profoundly affect Israel if it backfires.

Pakistan on a Tightrope

| May 19, 2019

Pakistan risks falling off a tightrope as it attempts to balance its relations with rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Saudi Gas Export Plan Shines New Light on Efforts to Isolate Iran

| March 15, 2019

Saudi plans to become a major gas exporter within a decade raise questions about what the real goal of the kingdom’s policy, and by extension that of the US, is towards Iran.