Saudi Arabia

  • Religious Tensions Underlying the GCC Rift

    The speed at which poor relations between Qatar and several Gulf Co-operation Council states escalated was astonishing. It was only a few weeks ago that the Qatari Emir had been invited to Riyadh as part of the grand “Arab-Islamic-American Summit.” But in the space of a few days, the GCC has faced the largest set of challenges in its existence, with Saudi Arabia leading the charge to seemingly bring Qatar in line with what it sees as acceptable parameters for a GCC state to operate within, particularly in terms of the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran and support for different militant groups. The rift, though, is revealing some interesting fault lines within the GCC. They’re not Sunni-Shia divides, but rather intra-Sunni divides. The irony is that Saudi and Qatar are actually far more on the same side in that divide than they are with anyone else in the GCC.

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  • Alyahya Quoted in The Wall Street Journal on Saudi Arabia's New Security Apparatus


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  • A Widening Gulf

    Qatar crisis creates a headache for the United States

    Nearly two months in, the diplomatic crisis between the Arab Gulf states is growing ever more complicated. The July 16 Washington Post report that cites unnamed US intelligence officials as claiming that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) precipitated the diplomatic row with Qatar by hacking Qatari state-run news outlets and attributing false statements to the tiny emirate’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, is, if true, troubling for several reasons.

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  • A Question for Washington: Who in the GCC Finances Terrorism?

    Journalists in Middle Eastern media outlets have been engaged in harsh mudslinging ever since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and Bahrain (aka the quartet) severed diplomatic and economic relations with Qatar in June over Doha’s alleged support for the Islamic State (ISIS), al Qaeda, and Iranian-backed militias in numerous Arab states. Although some maintain that the move was long overdue, others argue that for Saudi Arabia to lead the charge was akin to the pot calling the kettle black and that Riyadh, more than any Arab capital, has promoted violent extremism across the Muslim world.

    Based on the words and actions of the American diplomatic establishment and the Pentagon since the Qatar crisis erupted, it is clear that Washington plans to continue working closely with all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states in the struggle against terrorism. Nonetheless, the US government’s mixed messages on the Qatar crisis have illustrated the multifaceted and complex nature of the common allegations against the gas-rich Arabian emirate.

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  • Qatar Crisis Gets Mired in Mixed Messages

    Mixed messages from US President Donald J. Trump’s administration and an apparent belief in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that they have the ear of the White House have exacerbated the crisis between the United States’ Arab Gulf partners, according to Richard LeBaron, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

    The crisis has exposed a rift between Trump and his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. While Trump has been critical of Qatar—he initially appeared to take credit for the Saudi blockade against a country that houses a US military base—Tillerson has been actively seeking an end to the Saudi/Emirati-led blockade of Qatar.

    “Certainly, it is not useful to be sending mixed messages, but it is equally not useful for the Saudis and the Emiratis to somehow convince themselves that they have the president’s support and, therefore, can ignore the whole foreign policy institutional apparatus in the United States, including the Defense Department, the State Department, and the intelligence agencies,” said LeBaron, a former US ambassador to Kuwait.

    “Frankly, they need these agencies more than we need them. It would serve them well to avoid trying to exploit any perceived differences in Washington,” he said of the Saudis and Emiratis.

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  • Al Jazeera in the Eye of a Storm

    Al Jazeera, the first state-owned pan-Arab news network, means many different things to Middle Eastern governments and citizens. The Doha-headquartered network has provided Arabs with a style of reporting that was unheard of in the region before its launch twenty-two years ago. In 2011, Al Jazeera’s coverage of Arab Spring uprisings shaped history by promoting revolutionary change and human rights-focused narratives.

    In some Arabs’ eyes, Al Jazeera is a ‘watchdog for democracy’ that gives a ‘voice to the voiceless’, covering stories that are popular among large segments of Middle Eastern societies and unpopular with most Arab governments. Other Arabs view Al Jazeera as a Qatari-run propaganda network that aims to destabilize the Middle East by advancing Islamist agendas, promoting sectarian unrest, and giving airtime to hateful extremists who promote violence and intolerance.

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  • Slavin Joins Al Jazeera to Discuss If Saudi Arabia Miscalculated in Qatar Feud


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  • Hellyer Quoted in Reuters on Saudi Arabia's Acquisition of Red Sea Islands


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  • Iran and the United States' Competition in Eastern Syria

    An official response to ISIS’ deadly twin attacks in Tehran on June 7, Iran’s medium-range missile strikes were a clear message not only to many in the region, but to Washington as well, that the Islamic Republic will not hesitate to respond decisively to forces hostile toward Iran.

    Iran’s strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) targets in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor governorate on June 18 marked the Islamic Republic’s first missile strikes in a foreign country since Tehran attacked the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), a militant political organization, in Diyala, Iraq, with ballistic missiles in 2001.

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  • Handjani Quoted by Bloomberg on Tensions Between Saudi Arabia and Qatar


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