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Ed Webb

Widespread Iraqi anger threatens Saudi ties - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East - 0 views

  • In light of this commotion on the streets, the Iraqi government has distanced itself from the strained Saudi-Iranian ties following the execution of Nimr and other developments, such as the storming of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran on Jan. 2 and the rupture of ties between the two countries. The government also turned a deaf ear to Iraqi Shiite forces close to Iran that demanded that ties be cut with Saudi Arabia.
  • The official Iraqi position was incomprehensible to some extremist circles. Although it has condemned the execution of Nimr, Iraq also supported the Saudi position against Iran in the closing statement of the Arab League meeting on Jan. 10. This statement condemned the attack against the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and supported the Saudi position against Iran, demanding that Iran stop interfering in Saudi affairs.
  • Iraq’s situation is currently complicated by the war against IS and the economic crisis caused by declining oil prices. Abadi seems to be looking to preserve any potential support in the fight against IS, which challenges the existence of the Iraqi state itself.
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    The three-way game between Riyadh, Tehran, and Baghdad begins to reassert itself?
Ed Webb

Can Oman help Saudis save face in Yemen? - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East - 1 views

  • Muscat’s understanding of Yemeni history, where no fighting force has ever been able to seize control of the entire nation. Conflict resolution in Yemen will require a power-sharing agreement in which all sides have a voice at the table, rather than a military campaign aimed at crushing the Houthi rebel movement.
  • the Omani leadership is most unsettled by the threat that a prolonged conflict poses to the security of Oman’s Dhofar governorate, situated along the Gulf Arab nation’s 187-mile border with Yemen
  • As Omanis face the challenges associated with the succession issue, Muscat officials are unsettled by the potential for groups in the historically neglected Dhofar governorate to reject the legitimacy of Qaboos’ successor. Within this context, promoting a peaceful resolution to the Yemeni crisis at the roundtable serves Oman’s national interests.
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  • That Saudi Arabia, the wealthiest Arab country and the world’s top arms importer, cannot defeat an insurgency from the most underserved region of the poorest Arab country is a source of humiliation
Ed Webb

How will hajj stampede impact Iran-Saudi relations? - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Midd... - 2 views

  • Until recently, figures close to the Rouhani administration, and in particular the chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, were seeking more engagement with the Saudis. The cornerstone of their approach was the assumption that such interaction could lessen the tensions in Iran’s relations with the Saudi royal family. This approach has been criticized at home, mostly by conservatives who argue that more engagement with the Saudis is possible in case Riyadh changes its approach toward Iran and some regional issues.
  • Given recent developments, and above all the war in Yemen and the hajj stampede, critics of outreach to the Saudis — backed by Iranian public sentiment, which is tilted against Riyadh — now have the upper hand in Tehran
Ed Webb

'Deadly' heat waves predicted for Arabian Gulf by 2100 - Al Jazeera English - 2 views

  • Scorching temperatures are already standard for people living in the Arabian Gulf, but by the end of the century parts of the region could become so hot that it will be impossible for humans to spend time outside
  • if climate change continues at the same pace the severe conditions that now happen roughly once every 20 summer days will become a normal occurrence
  • potential danger for the millions of Muslims attending the annual pilgrimage of Hajj
Ed Webb

Saudi Arabia and Hungary sign nuclear energy pact | Middle East Eye - 1 views

  • Oil giant Saudi Arabia, which is trying to diversify its energy sources, signed an agreement on Monday with Hungary to cooperate in the use of atomic energy.

    It is the latest pact of its kind signed by Riyadh, which earlier this year reached similar agreements with Russia and South Korea.

  • cooperation in reactor design, construction and operation, security, waste management and training
  • help the kingdom to establish atomic and renewable energy in a sustainable way to help preserve depleting hydrocarbon resources
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  • Saudi Arabia is entirely dependent on oil and gas for its electricity production, and according to SPA its energy demand is growing between six and eight percent annually
  • France and Saudi Arabia announced a feasibility study for building two nuclear reactors in the kingdom
Ed Webb

Senate Democrats hold up arms sales for Saudi war in Yemen - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of t... - 2 views

  • Congress was notified Aug. 19 of the Obama administration's intent to provide Riyadh with thousands of precision-guided munitions. The sale is linked to the administration's effort to placate Gulf countries' concerns about the Iranian nuclear deal, but it has hit a snag with Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who want to see the Saudi-led campaign reeled in.
  • “I fear that our failure to strongly advocate diplomacy in Yemen over the past two years, coupled with our failure to urge restraint in the face of the crisis last spring, may put the viability of this critical [US-Saudi] partnership at risk,” said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. “The Leahy Law prohibits US security assistance — and many forms of defense cooperation — with forces that have engaged in gross violations of human rights. If reports are accurate, the Saudi indiscriminate targeting in the air campaign and an overly broad naval blockade could well constitute such violations.”
  • While the sale is almost certain to go through eventually, they hope to use it as leverage to win concessions on kick-starting political negotiations with the Houthis and lifting the blockade
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  • Critics of the sale in particular point out that Riyadh has been able to derive extra legitimacy from the US support for its campaign.

    “We are very careful in picking targets. We have very precise weapons,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told CBS News after an airstrike killed more than 130 people at a wedding reception. “We work with our allies, including the United States, on these targets.”

  • Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. “It's not all bad that the Saudis decided that they wanted to act immediately in Yemen. I don't think we need to be 'mother may I' in terms of folks acting in their own security interests in the region. But I am struck by the level of their response compared to what I view as an extremely tepid response to Sunni extremism. It's not just Iranian influence in the region that should trouble us.”
Ed Webb

Yemen Doesn't Need the Obama Administration's 'Deep Concern' | Foreign Policy - 2 views

  • more than 21 million of Yemen’s 25 million people now require some form of aid to survive, and more than 1.5 million have fled their homes
  • The responsibility for Yemen’s descent into wanton destruction lies not with the United States, but with Yemen’s government in exile, the Houthis, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and other Yemeni political and military leaders; they are each pursuing their own short-sighted interests at the expense of an equitable and inclusive peace. But thanks to the U.S. government’s deep involvement in what many Yemenis call the “Saudi-American” military campaign, American hands are far from clean
  • To truly stand with Yemenis, the Obama administration must adopt a radically different course: withdraw its support to the coalition including the transfer of arms to belligerent parties, publicly demand the free flow of commercial goods into all ports, and rally support at the United Nations Security Council for an immediate, unconditional cease-fire and inclusive political process to bring an end to the war.
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