Saudi Arabia Dispatch

by Sultan Alamer
published in MER283

President Donald J. Trump is known for breaking norms of domestic and foreign policy in his first year in office. In terms of US-Saudi relations, however, his policy has been relatively standard. Although he chose Saudi Arabia as his first international destination as president—breaking the pattern of a new president visiting either Canada or Mexico first—little else in the existing US-Saudi relationship has changed. During that May 2017 trip, Trump attended three summits, oversaw the signing of several lucrative military and economic deals, adopted counter-terrorism measures and articulated a stronger stance against Iran. None of these were new to the Saudi-US relationship.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Onwards and Upwards with Women in the Gulf

by Andrew Leber , Charlotte Lysa | published January 11, 2018

Change is afoot for Saudi Arabia’s female citizens, or so suggests much commentary about events over the past few years. There was the first election in which women could vote, the first public concert by a female performer, and soon (if all goes according to plan) for the first time Saudi women will be able to drive on the streets of Riyadh and elsewhere in the kingdom. All have garnered their share of headlines.

An Open Letter by Senior Middle East Scholars to the New York Times Regarding its Thomas Friedman's column, "Saudi Arabia's Arab Spring, At Last."

published November 30, 2017 - 10:10am

We write as scholars of the Middle East and the Muslim world with long, collective experience on Gulf and Arabian Peninsula policy issues to express our amazement, concern and anger that the New York Times would publish Thomas Friedman's recent essay "Saudi Arabia's Arab Spring, At Last."

Letter to UN Secretary-General Concerning Saudi Arabia's Removal from List of Armies Charged with War Crimes

published June 29, 2016 - 4:09pm

June 30, 2016

Mr. Ban Ki-Moon
United Nations Secretary General

We the undersigned, a group of professors in Europe and North America, are deeply alarmed to learn that the government of Saudi Arabia has coerced you to remove the military coalition led by that country in Yemen from the UN list of armies charged with war crimes in that country. According to the New York Times, you have openly admitted to reporters that you were “threatened with the loss of financing for humanitarian operations in the Palestinian territories, South Sudan and Syria” if you did not capitulate to Saudi demands in this regard.

Arabia Incognita

by The Editors | published May 6, 2016 - 12:23pm

The disastrous Saudi-led war on Yemen has entered its fourteenth month.

Open Letter from Scholars of Yemen

published March 31, 2016 - 1:33pm

US Secretary of State John Kerry
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond
French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayraut

Notes on Low Oil Prices and Their Implications

by Miriam R. Lowi | published February 24, 2016 - 9:50am

After about three years of hovering around $110 per barrel, with highs of $125 and lows of $90, oil prices began a precipitous decline in the summer of 2014, reaching a low of $48 per barrel in mid-August 2015 before plummeting to just under $30 per barrel five months later. While investors are no doubt reeling from the impact of this price decline on their portfolios and ventures, it’s well worth pondering how the Middle East and its geopolitics are likely to be affected.

But how to explain this downward spiral in the first place? By all accounts, reasons abound.

Saudi Arabia's Dangerous Sectarian Game

by Toby Jones | published January 5, 2016

When Saudi Arabia executed the Shiite cleric and political dissident Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday, the country’s leaders were aware that doing so would upset their long-time rivals in Iran. In fact, the royal court in Riyadh was probably counting on it. It got what it wanted. The deterioration of relations has been precipitous: Protesters in Tehran sacked Saudi Arabia’s embassy; in retaliation, Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties. More severe fallout could follow—possibly even war.

The GCC Needs a Successful Strategy for Yemen, Not Failed Tactics

by James Spencer | published September 11, 2015 - 8:06am

For the last 45 years, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has tried to mitigate its Yemen problem through short-term tactics, rather than construct and give resources to a strategy for solving it. That policy has failed repeatedly. A bold and lasting transformation is needed, not the same ineffectual meddling.

Traditionally, the attitude of most GCC members toward Yemen has been fond but standoffish. The Gulf states have been fairly generous in funding projects and providing aid, but held populous Yemen at arms’ length, for reasons both demographic and ideological, the latter being fear of Marxism and republicanism.

Saudi Arabia and the War in Lebanon

by A Special Correspondent
published in MER111

People here responded to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in a typically quiet fashion. In my day-to-day business contacts with Saudis, the subject of the war rarely came up unless I raised it. One Saudi friend commented, “We don’t yell and shout, but when we’re among ourselves we talk about it and we say that something has to be done about US support for Israel.”

The scene in any one of the country’s Lebanese shops or restaurants was quite different. Radios blared in the background as men argued loudly over the latest reports and rumors. No doubt some Saudis also viewed the war through Palestinian and Lebanese expatriates, although this community has nowhere near the social and political influence it has in Kuwait.