Saturday 15 Dec 2018 | 07:24 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

Saudi Arabia

Yemen, Khashoggi, and the deadly Saudi trade

“Wait, let’s take a picture!” Osama Zeid al Homran shouted to his friends. In the video the boys, aged six to eleven, are laughing and joking with one another on the bus on the way to an excursion to celebrate the end of term at their school in Sa’dah, a region of Yemen bordering on Saudi

Concerns over Saudi Arabia go far beyond Khashoggi

For the past 14 years, the small Gulf nation of Bahrain has convened sheikhs, soldiers, statesmen, and the occasional humble researcher for the IISS Manama Dialogue to discuss matters of strategy in the Middle East. The forum’s traditionally anodyne tone was punctured this year by the murder of

Jamal Khashoggi: shifting law in a deadly turf war

The alleged extrajudicial killing of Jamal Khashoggi, and the international condemnation that followed, reflects not only rivalry in the Middle East, but also greater anxiety about the direction of liberal democracy and the international rule of law more broadly. Last week, US President Donald

Pakistan: indebted to China, Saudi Arabia, and IMF

Saudi Arabia was the first country Imran Khan visited after assuming office as Pakistan’s new Prime Minister. As he made the trip last month, he asked for financial help for Pakistan’s turbulent economy. Soon after his return, it was announced that Pakistan had invited Saudi

What should Australia do about Saudi Arabia?

Now that the shock of the news that Riyadh may have been so bold as to kill one of its American-based critics inside its consulate in Istanbul has largely sunk in, thoughts inevitably turn to what can be done to express disgust. Naturally this will need to await the outcome of the Turkish

Where’s Jamal?

Even by the standards of Saudi politics, the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi is head-scratchingly bizarre. He entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last Tuesday, supposedly to sort out paperwork for his upcoming marriage. He hasn’t been seen since. The Saudi consul-

Saudis try block Canada’s feminist foreign policy

Twitter has come to play a central role in how nations conduct their affairs, with the social media site an active component of policy projection, direct communication, and diplomacy. While analysts look to distinguish between actual policy that is created by the White House and the “

Reform in Saudi Arabia: will MbS squib it?

For many months, Saudi Arabia’s young tyro Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) has given the impression he is a very different kind of Saudi leader: more dynamic, more decisive, and, most importantly of all, more transformative than his predecessors. Mohammad bin Salman is

The sports make-over

Before a ball had even been kicked at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, star Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah was courted for a photo-op with Head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov. Big international sports tournaments have been a familiar platform for countries to attempt to normalise global

The world according to Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been on an extended tour of the United States, trying to present a friendly face to the American public and bring them on side in the same way he’s won over the Trump administration. This began with a 60 Minutes extended interview 

Saudi desperation as Yemen campaign stagnates

The 4 November missile launch by Houthi rebels in Yemen towards the Saudi capital Riyadh prompted an unexpectedly harsh response. Almost immediately, the Saudi-led coalition announced a complete land, sea and air embargo on Yemen. The Saudis have since reopened air, land and sea access to ports

Saudi arrests: More than palace intrigue

The arrests in early November of dozens of Saudi royals, bureaucrats and businessmen has brought fresh international attention to Saudi politics and palace intrigue. The arrests have been widely, and correctly, attributed to 32-year-old crown prince Muhammad Ibn Salman, nicknamed MbS. Ostensibly

Iraq, the Kurds, and the mess America has made

Tensions between the Iraqi military and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are once again threatening to boil over. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered the military to 'impose security' in and around the oilfields and airport in the province of Kirkuk, a region the Kurds took back from Islamic

Politics slows Saudi reform plans

Even to the Saudi leaders looking at the consultants' PowerPoint presentation last year, Saudia Arabia's 2020 'National Transformation Plan' must have looked improbable. Unemployment to be cut by a fifth in just three years, 1.2 million additional jobs in five years, half of the Saudi workforce

Riyadh’s Shia two-step

Iraqi Shia Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's reconciliation tour of Sunni-run Gulf states continued this week, following up his visit to Riyadh to see Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with a visit to the UAE. There he was met by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayad. There is little doubt

Saudi Arabia’s change of tack on Iraq

For too long, the Saudis have complained about the 'loss' of Iraq to Iranian influence without acknowledging that their almost complete refusal to establish ties with Baghdad achieved little other than creating the vacuum that Tehran has sought to fill. But there are signs that Riyadh has

Defence exports to the Gulf: No price on values

A recent interview with Christopher Pyne in his capacity as Minister for Defence Industry was somewhat unusual in the way in which he apparently advocated defence export-led closer engagement with Middle Eastern countries. The problem with defence exports, of course, is that ideally we

Stalemate in Qatar dispute

It was Marlon Brando’s character in The Godfather, Don Vito Corleone who uttered the famous words ‘I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse’. In the current imbroglio between Qatar and the Saudi-led bloc, the 13-point list of demands issued by Riyadh could well be described as making Doha an

Qatar crisis: Why the Saudis want Al Jazeera gone

Closing Al Jazeera and all its affiliates is among the top demands from the Saudi-backed alliance in its three-week-old trade and diplomatic embargo of Qatar. While the Saudi alliance accuses Qatar of using its powerful media empire to incite extremism, back Islamist groups and interfere in

Saudi succession shuffle

Today's announcement that Saudi Arabia's King Salman has reshuffled the line of succession in favour of his son Mohammed bin Salman is surprising, but not unexpected. MBS, as he is often referred to, has been moved from Deputy Crown Prince to Crown Prince, while Mohammed bin Nayef (MBN), the King'

King Salman’s wild ride

Saudi King Salman’s month-long tour of Asia marks a rare occurrence for Saudi monarchs, who rarely engage in such prolonged diplomatic activities. The arc of the King’s sojourn takes him through a range of regional middle and lesser powers, with stops in Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and the

Saudi Arabia goes to war

Saudi Arabia's recent actions have caused a great deal of anxiety within its region. On 4  February, a military spokesman suggested that Saudi Arabia was ready to send troops ground troops to fight ISIS in Syria. A week later Saudi Arabia announced that it will send combat aircraft and soldiers