Saudi Arabia

  • Trump’s Iran Policy Is Undermining Gulf Oil Security

    How many oil tankers laden with Saudi or Emirati oil need to be attacked around the Strait of Hormuz for the US to use force in the Gulf? That is not an American problem, according to US President Donald Trump. The world’s major geopolitical chokepoint for global oil supplies, that Arabian Gulf countries leveraged in pursuit of garnering American support, against Iran has now become irrelevant under the Trump administration. Iran’s security wildcard—closing the Strait of Hormuz—has become obsolete. Six tankers sabotaged around the strait and the markets didn’t even flinch, with crude oil benchmark prices continuing to decline over the two-month period of the attacks. 

    The Trump administration buck-passing Gulf oil security has sent shivers down the spines of leaders on both sides of the Gulf. By shifting security responsibility to Gulf oil exporters and Asian importers, Trump is overturning geopolitical axioms that for decades were taken for granted such as the vitality of the Strait of Hormuz as a global energy bottleneck and the importance of the stability in the Gulf region. Additionally, Trump is accelerating the restructuring of global oil markets by cementing the importance of American shale oil globally, and thus contributing to the volatility surrounding oil economies in the Gulf. 

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  • Women’s World Cup 2019: Where is the Middle East?

    The final match of the Women’s World Cup 2019 is a few short days away and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) expects viewership to reach one billion. With all the excitement these past months have generated, it is hard not to notice a glaring discrepancy in representation. There is not one team from the Middle East that qualified. Is it because the sport is less popular in this region? Is it because the women don’t want to play? The answer to both questions is no. Soccer is in fact one of the most popular sports in the Middle East. According to a report on sports in the region, “Soccer is woven tightly into the lives and cultures of the peoples of the Middle East.” Anyone should be able to grab a ball, gather some neighborhood kids, and play a pickup game barefoot from Sao Paulo to Tokyo. But what about Kabul, Tehran, and Ankara? When girls or women try to enter the game, it isn’t as simple as it is for boys and men. This is especially true in the Middle East.


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  • Nabeel Khoury quoted in the Globe Post: Saudi Arabia, UAE Want a Dictator to Remain in Power in Sudan, Expert Says


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  • Open Source Information as a Tool in Exposing Authoritarian Regimes

    In April, Norwegian security agents informed Iyad el-Baghdadi that he was the target of a threat emanating from Saudi Arabia. El-Baghdadi believes the threat came from the government of Saudi Arabia, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the crown prince’s righthand man Saud al-Qahtani.


    El-Baghdadi, a prominent Arab activist, is a critic of the Saudi government, much like his late friend, Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018. He took the threat seriously.

    El-Baghdadi says the threats to his life have escalated since his involvement in an investigation into Saudi government Twitter campaigns against Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos since Khashoggi’s murder. The co-founder and president of the Kawaakibi Foundation, El-Baghdadi participated via Skype from Norway in the Atlantic Council’s 360 O/S disinformation conference in London on June 21. He discussed the importance of open source information in covering authoritarian regimes.


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  • A Non-Subversion Pact for the Persian Gulf?

    A major complaint of those who rejected the 2015 Iran nuclear deal is that it did nothing to curb Iran’s regional interventions and actually may have spurred them. 

    Iran, these opponents argue, remains a theologically driven hegemon out to subvert Arab states and turn them into states too weak to threaten Tehran. Thus they reject recent proposals by Iran for a “non-aggression pact” as unrealistic and propagandistic. 

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  • Saudi Arabia and Iran Are Adapting to Perpetual Conflict

    When rogue intelligence officers at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, an official of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) voiced concern over the surge of US media onslaught on Saudi Arabia. Echoing Iran’s conspiratorial views of the United States, the IRGC official questioned if Washington was planning to undermine Riyadh. He then insisted that Tehran would denounce such moves. 

    Iran is charged with interfering in Saudi Arabia’s internal affairs, but Tehran appears to want Riyadh to keep a firm hold on power. The rapid deterioration of regional security has muted Iran’s desire to watch rival Arab states collapse. There is a realization that the potential rise of jihadists in Saudi Arabia, if the kingdom were to fall, could also destabilize Iran. In a similar vein, in Riyadh—per conversations this author has had—there is concern that the kingdom would have to pay a heavy price if a war erupted with Iran. 

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  • Attacks on Saudi Oil Stations Raise Tensions in Volatile Gulf

    Drones purportedly flown by Houthi rebels in Yemen attacked Saudi oil pumping stations on May 14, creating a new flash point in a region already on edge over rising tensions between the United States and Iran.

    A Houthi military official claimed the group launched multiple attacks against “vital Saudi installations” using drones to deliver bombs. The Houthis have been fighting the Saudi-backed government in Yemen since 2015.


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  • Daragahi Quoted in Talk Media News on Houthi Rebels in Yemen Blamed for Saudi Oil Attacks


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  • Saudi Arabia’s Plan to Lure Iraq From Iran

    A Saudi economic delegation visited Iraq on April 3, seeking to promote the expansion of diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries—and to give Iraq an alternative to growing Iranian ties. 

    This was the second meeting of the Iraqi-Saudi Coordination Council, which held an initial meeting in 2017. The Saudis offered a $1 billion loan for the creation of a sports complex to be known as Sport City. The council also announced the establishment of consular centers for visa services in Baghdad and two other Iraqi cities.

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  • Wald Joins Bloomberg to Discuss Saudi Aramco's Profit


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