Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

Saudia Arabia Accuse Iran of Aggression

The Dogs of War are barking.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has accused Iran of an act of “direct military aggression” by supplying missiles to rebels in Yemen.

This “may be considered an act of war”, state media quoted the prince as telling UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in a telephone conversation.

On Saturday, a ballistic missile was intercepted near the Saudi capital.

Iran has denied arming the Houthi movement, which is fighting a Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen’s government.

Middle East Girds for Next War

A 24-hour sequence of political bombshells began on Saturday afternoon, when Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation from the Saudi capital of Riyadh, blindsiding his country’s political establishment. Hours later, Saudi Arabia’s official news agency reported that the country’s military had intercepted a Yemen-borne ballistic missile over Riyadh. Even as images of the blast were flashing on TV sets around the region, similarly dramatic news began to trickle in: Some of Saudi Arabia’s most high-profile princes and businessmen were being sacked and detained in an anti-corruption drive led by bin Salman.
The events serve as an opening salvo for a new period in the region’s crisis-ridden history, analysts say. They represent an escalation in a yearslong proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, threatening to activate new fronts in the region, with the Saudi show of force beginning with a sweeping consolidation of power from within.
On Friday, ISIS’ last strongholds in Iraq and Syria fell. It marked a major milestone in a fight that saw archrivals converge on the extremist group until its so-called caliphate was on its last legs. On Saturday, regional powerhouses appear to have trained their sights on one another.
[…]
Mohammed bin Salman’s campaign of “two fronts,” as analysts have dubbed it, is being met by cheers and apprehension. But there is near consensus that these are uncharted waters, and the results will be dramatic.

Saudi Purge

This smells like the purge of an autocrat. I suppose we’ll see whether or not it’s a good thing or not.

A new Saudi anti-corruption body has detained 11 princes, four sitting ministers and dozens of former ministers, media reports say.

The detentions came hours after the new committee, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was formed by royal decree.

Those detained were not named.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says Prince Mohammed is moving to consolidate his growing power while spearheading a reform programme.

[…]

Separately, the heads of the Saudi National Guard and the navy were replaced in a series of high-profile sackings.

SPA said King Salman had dismissed National Guard minister Prince Miteb bin Abdullah and navy commander Admiral Abdullah bin Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Sultan.

[…]

Prince Miteb, son of the late King Abdullah, was once seen as a contender for the throne and was the last member of Abdullah’s branch of the family at the highest echelons of Saudi government.

Our correspondent says Prince Mohammed, who already serves as defence minister, now has nominal control over all the country’s security forces.

Saudis Intercept Missile Fired at Capital

Yikes. That comes after the Houthi fired missiles at Saudi refineries this summer.

Saudi Arabia says it has intercepted a ballistic missile fired from Yemen, after a loud explosion was heard near Riyadh airport on Saturday evening.

The missile was destroyed over the capital and fragments landed in the airport area, officials quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency said.

A TV channel linked to Houthi rebels in Yemen said the missile was fired at the King Khalid International Airport.

The civil aviation authority said that air traffic was not disrupted.

Saudi forces have reported shooting down Houthi missiles in the past , though none has come so close to a major population centre.

Saudis Thwart Missle Attack on Mecca

I assume that’s an American made missile defense system.

Saudi Arabia has accused Yemeni rebels of attempting to throw into disarray the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca after a missile fired by the Iran-backed Houthis was intercepted south of Islam’s holiest city.

The Saudi-led coalition, which intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after Houthis stormed the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, called the attack “a desperate attempt by Shiite Houthi rebels to disrupt Hajj.” The annual Muslim pilgrimage to the Kabaa, the most revered site in Islam, begins at the end of August.

The ballistic missile was intercepted 43 miles south of Mecca. It is not the first time the rebels have fired in the direction of the city. The AFP reported in October that the Houthis launched a long-range strike firing on Mecca.

Saudi Arabia Elected to U.N. Commission on the Status of Women

Because… of course.

Saudi Arabia was elected to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

The addition of the Gulf nation was first flagged by UN Watch, a nongovernmental body that monitors the United Nations. The Commission on the Status of Women’s main mission is to assess the challenges to reaching gender inequality, according to the U.N. website.

The organization’s executive director slammed the election, which occurred in a secret vote during the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council.

The Homogenization of Islam’s Holiest City

From the Economist.

Critics call this Islamic Maoism. Out went the city’s heterogeneous mix of Maliki, Shafii and Zaydi rites; in came homogenisation under the Wahhabi creed. Alongside the black and white dress they forced on women and men respectively, the new tribal rulers reshaped the urban environment, stripping away the past. They replaced the four pulpits at the foot of the Kaaba, one for each of Sunni Islam’s schools, with a single one, exclusively for Wahhabi preachers. They cleansed the faith of saint-worship, demolishing shrines venerated by Shia and traditional Sunnis alike. Of the city’s scores of holy sites, only the Kaaba survives.

President Flies to Riyadh

Accomplishes nothing.

Yet even as White House officials stressed that the leaders made progress, a prominent member of the Saudi royal family told CNN “a recalibration” of the U.S.-Saudi relationship was needed amid regional upheaval, dropping oil prices and ongoing strains between the two longtime allies.
Obama landed in Riyadh earlier Wednesday for a summit with Gulf leaders and spent two-and-a-half hours meeting with the 80-year-old monarch on issues that have recently strained the alliance, including the conflict in Yemen, the role of Iran, Lebanon’s instability and the fight against ISIS, U.S. officials said.
Statements after the meeting made clear that deep differences remain on several of these points, with the two sides agreeing to disagree and a U.S. official characterizing the encounter as the start of a discussion rather than a venue for solutions.
But the two leaders glossed over some of the thorniest matters, including a Saudi threat to dump U.S. assets if Obama signs into law a bill that could make the kingdom liable for damages stemming from the September 11 terror attacks.

Saudi Arabia Threatens US Over 9/11 Bill

People seem to forget that our extraordinary debt puts our nation at risk from actions like this.

(CNN)Saudi Arabia is warning it will sell off billions in American assets if the U.S. Congress passes a bipartisan bill that would allow victims of 9/11 and other terrorist attacks to sue foreign governments.
Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir issued the warning to U.S. lawmakers last month during a visit to Washington, two senior State Department officials told CNN. A source with knowledge of the Saudis’ thinking said investments would be put in jeopardy if this bill passes, so they are trying to protect themselves from risk.

China Flexes in the Middle East

Nature abhors a vacuum.

Realizing that the Middle East is too important to be left to others — and that neglecting it could run to China’s peril — China is no longer willing to sit on the sidelines and watch the region descend into chaos. China has for several months harbored a suspicion that the United States, entering an election year while drowning in domestic oil and gas supply, is not as interested in the Middle East as it has been for the past half century. (At any rate, Washington’s relations with Riyadh and Tehran are too thorny to enable it to be an honest broker.) More importantly, Russia has laid down the flag of Middle East neutrality that it carried for most of the post-Soviet era. Moscow once enjoyed equally good relations with Tehran and Riyadh. But in plunging into the civil war in Syria, Russia — despite the fact that most of its Muslim population is Sunni — entangled itself with the Shiite camp, and can no longer be trusted by the Sunnis. With the United States and Russia no longer able to hold the balance between Iran and Saudi Arabia, China, which has solid relations with both, is increasingly tempted to fill the vacuum.

Pakistan Supports Saudi Arabia

This is no small thing. Pakistan is a nuclear nation and has a border with Iran.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Any threat to Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity will evoke a strong response from Islamabad, Pakistani army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif said Sunday.

Sharif made the remarks in a statement after Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman met with him in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, adjacent to the capital.

 

More Sunni Countries Distance Themselves From Iran

Getting hotter

Bahrain announced Monday that it was severing diplomatic ties with Iran, citing Tehran’s “blatant and dangerous interference” in Bahrain and other Arab countries.

The United Arab Emirates said it was “downgrading” its diplomatic relations with Iran. The UAE recalled its ambassador in Tehran and said it would also reduce the number of diplomats stationed in Iran, according to state news agency WAM. A government statement said the UAE “has taken this exceptional step in light of Iran’s ongoing interference in internal (Gulf Cooperation Council) and Arab affairs that has recently reached unprecedented levels.”

The diplomatic row spread to Africa, where Sudan — a majority Sunni Muslim country — expelled the Iranian ambassador and the entire Iranian diplomatic mission in the country. Sudan also recalled its ambassador from Iran.

Saudi Arabia Severs Ties with Iran

Things are continuing to escalate.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said Sunday that his country is severing ties with Iran. Iranian diplomats in Saudi Arabia have 48 hours to leave the country, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters.

The two countries have long been at odds, but Saudi Arabia’s execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr Saturday kicked off a new round of sparring between them that analysts say could mark a dangerous shift in an already volatile region.

“I think you’re going to see a period of very harsh rhetoric, and the cutting of diplomatic ties comes at a very bad time. … This is Saudi Arabia saying, ‘The gloves are off,’ ” said Bobby Ghosh, a CNN global affairs analyst and managing editor of Quartz.

Saudi Arabia Announces Military Alliance

It’s nice to see them stepping up. I hope there is some real commitment and force behind this.

DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced the formation of a 34-state Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism, according to a joint statement published on state news agency SPA.

“The countries here mentioned have decided on the formation of a military alliance led by Saudi Arabia to fight terrorism, with a joint operations center based in Riyadh to coordinate and support military operations,” the statement said.

A long list of Arab countries such as Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, together with Islamic countries Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan and Gulf Arab and African states were mentioned.

America and the Kingdom

America’s few remaining allies in the Middle East are under severe pressure.

While the United States may be severely limited in terms of what it can do in the short term to help the kingdom address its mounting challenges internally, it still has significant capability to alleviate some of the rising external threats and pressures that the Saudis face. That is surely America’s comparative advantage: the ability to reassure key strategic partners of our commitment to their security, and our determination to maintain a regional correlation of forces that favors the United States and its friends while deterring our common adversaries.

But that is precisely the role that the Obama administration has so disastrously failed — or, more accurately, refused — to perform over the past several years, in the process undermining the morale and confidence of already fragile friends while super-charging the ambitions and aggression of their worst enemies.

The question now is whether the Obama administration is even capable of recovering from the geopolitical mess it has triggered. Does it even have a clue about the disastrously destabilizing chain of events that have been unleashed by its very purposeful decision to put a “closed for business” sign on Pax Americana in the Middle East? Does it at last understand that what replaces the abandonment of U.S. leadership in the region is not some virtuous equilibrium or balance of power among local competitors, but accelerating levels of violence, extremism, and chaos? Does it have any idea of how it would go about the arduous task of rebuilding the strategic partnerships that its policies have so badly undermined, and stemming the rising tsunami of disorder that now threatens to swamp the region and U.S. interests?

Alas, there’s absolutely no reason to believe that the answer to any of these questions is yes. In which case, the risks will continue to grow that on top of all the other disasters that President Obama will bequeath to his successor, he may yet add one more: an increasingly unstable and perilous situation in Saudi Arabia — the world’s largest exporter of oil, the site of Islam’s holiest sites, and a country awash, in almost equal measure, in advanced American weapons and angry Wahhabis.

Saudis Shoot Down Houthis Scud

The Saudis are fighting on two fronts right now.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia said it shot down a Scud missile fired by Yemen’s Shiite rebels and their allies early Saturday at a Saudi city that is home to a large air base, marking a major escalation in the monthslong war.

Two missiles launched from a Patriot missile battery shot down the Scud around 2:45 a.m. Saturday (2345 GMT, 7:45 p.m. EDT Friday) around the southwestern city of Khamis Mushait, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

The agency did not report any casualties in the attack, the first use of a Cold War-era Scud by the rebels since Saudi-led airstrikes began in March.

Khamis Mushait is home to the King Khalid Air Base, the largest such facility in that part of the country. Saudis on social media reported hearing air raid sirens go off around the city during the attack.

Saudi Prince Rebukes Putin

The Middle East is really heating up. The Saudi’s rarely flex like this in public.

In a rare move, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced that a letter from Putin would be read out to the gathering in Egypt, where Arab leaders discussed an array of regional crises, including conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya.

“We support the Arabs’ aspirations for a prosperous future and for the resolution of all the problems the Arab world faces through peaceful means, without any external interference,” Putin said in the letter.

His comments triggered a sharp attack from Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.

“He speaks about the problems in the Middle East as though Russia is not influencing these problems,” he told the summit right after the letter was read out.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Russia have been cool over Moscow’s support for Assad, whom Riyadh opposes. The civil war between Assad’s forces and rebels has cost more than 200,000 lives in four years.

“They speak about tragedies in Syria while they are an essential part of the tragedies befalling the Syrian people, by arming the Syrian regime above and beyond what it needs to fight its own people,” Prince Saud said.

“I hope that the Russian president corrects this so that the Arab world’s relations with Russia can be at their best level.”

The Saudi rebuke may have been awkward for summit host Egypt, which depends heavily on billions of dollars in support from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab allies, but has also improved ties with Moscow.