The Biden administration has said it expects Saudi Arabia to “change its approach” to the US and signalled that it wants to minimise any direct contact between the president and the country’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The stance marks an abrupt change compared with the Trump administration, which showered the young heir with attention and praise. It comes as intelligence officials are preparing to release – possibly as early as next week – a declassified report to Congress that will describe its assessment of the crown prince’s alleged culpability in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the US-based Washington Post journalist who was killed by Saudi officials in 2018.
The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, this week said Joe Biden intended to “recalibrate” the US relationship with Saudi Arabia, and considered King Salman – not Prince Mohammed – to be his counterpart. While the designation might technically be true, the 35-year-old prince is widely seen as running Saudi Arabia and has direct relations with other foreign leaders.
This is a strategic threat to the United States. Saudi Arabia is trying to force the U.S. to be dependent on their oil again because they have lost the sway they once had.
When Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s de facto leader and most influential member, decided at its latest meeting in Vienna to break its recent strategic oil partnership with Russia and adopt a new policy to maximize production levels, oil prices crashed — posting their biggest slide since the Gulf war in 1991.
But even more importantly, this new policy recalibrated global oil markets, giving Saudi Arabia the long-term advantage. This move marks a big change for the world’s largest oil exporter, which has in recent years attempted to manage the global oil markets by altering production levels, while garnering the difficult cooperation of Russia. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has finally decided to pursue a long-term policy that not only preserves and ultimately increases the kingdom’s market share, but also may signal the end of OPEC as a united functioning organization.This decision is very unpopular with most oil exporting countries, international energy companies and American shale producers because collapsing prices will drastically decrease their revenues and, in some cases, force them into bankruptcy.[…]On April 1 or shortly thereafter, Saudi Arabia will most likely surpass Russia to become the world’s second largest producer. But this oil price war won’t end until Saudi Arabia takes back the global production crown from the United States, which should happen within the next two years.
It’s not just social media companies who sell your data. Sometimes, people steal it.
Two former Twitter employees have been charged with spying after they reportedly obtained personal account information for critics of the government of Saudi Arabia.
A complaint unsealed on Wednesday in US district court in San Francisco detailed a coordinated effort by Saudi officials to recruit employees at the social media giant to look up the private data of thousands of Twitter accounts.
One of the former Twitter employees, Ahmad Abouammo, was arrested on Tuesday on charges of spying and falsifying an invoice to obstruct an FBI investigation. He is a US citizen. The other former employee, a Saudi citizen named Ali Alzabarah, was accused of accessing the personal information of more than 6,000 Twitter accounts in 2015 on behalf of Saudi Arabia.
Ha! I think I remember this tactic on the playground. Punch someone in the nose and then say that you want peace before they have a chance to hit back. Clever, if utterly insincere.
The UN has welcomed a proposal from Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels to end all attacks on Saudi Arabia as part of a peace initiative.
A statement said the proposal could send “a powerful message of the will to end the war”.
The offer comes a week after drone and missile strikes hit Saudi Arabian oil facilities.
Houthi rebels have claimed to have carried out the attack, but the US and Saudi Arabia have blamed Iran.
In a televised announcement, Houthi Supreme Political Council chair Mahdi al-Mashat said the group would end all strikes on Saudi Arabia, provided the kingdom and its allies did the same.
“We reserve the right to return and respond in the case there is no reaction to our initiative,” he said, and called on all parties in Yemen to work towards “comprehensive national reconciliation”.
Iran attacked by way of their Yemeni proxies, but that’s how Iran always attacks.
Ten drones launched by Iran-backed militants sparked a huge fire at the world’s largest oil processing facility and a major oilfield in Saudi Arabia in the early hours of this morning.
The fires at Abqaiq in Buqyaq, which contains the world’s largest oil processing plant, and Khurais, which contains the country’s second largest oilfield, have now been brought under control since the drone attacks at 4.00am local time.
Tensions are running high in the region after attacks in June and July on oil tankers in Gulf waters that Riyadh and Washington blamed on Iran.
A military spokesman for Yemen’s Houthi rebels, considered an Iranian proxy force in the region, has claimed responsibility for today’s attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais, two major facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia run by state-owned oil giant Aramco.
Saudi Arabian courts will notify women by text message when their husbands have been granted divorces under a law that took effect Sunday.
The initiative is aimed at concerns that Saudi men were increasingly neglecting to tell their wives they were divorced.
Lawyer Somayya Al-Hindi told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that Saudi courts in the past heard many cases of Saudi women still living with their ex-husbands without realizing they had been divorced.
We are at a new place in our nation’s relationship with Saudi Arabia.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia warned on Sunday that it will respond to threats and political pressure with tough measures of its own after President Donald Trump said the oil-rich kingdom deserves “severe punishment” if responsible for the disappearance and suspected murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.
The apparent threat of economic retaliation from the world’s top oil exporter came after a turbulent day on the Saudi stock exchange, which plunged as much as 7 percent at one point.
The statement was issued as international concern grew over the writer who vanished on a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul over a week ago. American lawmakers have threated sanctions against the Saudis, and Germany, France and Britain jointly called on Sunday for a “credible investigation” into Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team killed and dismembered Khashoggi, who wrote critically of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The kingdom has called such allegations “baseless” but has not offered any evidence Khashoggi ever left the consulate.
For generations, the United States and Europe would look past Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses because we needed their oil to fuel the economy. Those days are over. Thanks to American innovation and fracking, the US is now the largest producer of oil in the world and the world’s largest exporter of oil. Saudi Arabia’s importance in world affairs has diminished.
There is still risk to isolating Saudi Arabia. They have been a force of stability in an unstable region. And they are still a major oil producer whose behavior can impact the world economy. But it isn’t like it used to be.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund invested over $1 billion Monday in American electric car manufacturer, Lucid Motors.
That’s bad news for Tesla, as it signals that the kingdom may be moving in a different direction, just weeks after CEO Elon Musk claimed the fund would help his own firm go private.
The Public Investment Fund (PIF), which invests on behalf of the Saudi government, said the infusion would go toward launching the Lucid Air electric sedan by 2020.
As a child, I lived in Riyadh for 9 years and watched as a driver had to take my mom, and every other expat woman who was perfectly capable of driving, everywhere she needed to go. It’s a new era.
Saudi Arabia has today finally lifted its ban on women drivers. I was up until after midnight scrolling through social media for photos and videos of women hitting the roads in the moments after the ban was lifted.
Day one is a quiet one on the roads – a school summer holiday. Not a bad thing for anxious first-time drivers. Accompanied by my dad, for a few tips and some moral support, I set out for work.
On the way I pass the police, but I’m not scared of being pulled over. I have a licence and I’m driving legally in Saudi Arabia. I stop to get coffee from a drive-through, and I’m the first female driver the barista has ever served.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.