Arabia Saudí

‘Thanks to the Biden administration’s immunity decision, Prince Mohammed now has a level of protection from US legal actions.’ Photograph: Rex/Shuttersto

The Biden administration told a US judge last week that Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, should be granted immunity in a civil lawsuit over his role in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. That decision effectively ends one of the last efforts to hold the prince accountable for Khashoggi’s assassination by a Saudi hit team inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

It is an act of weakness and political cowardice by Joe Biden’s administration, which staked its reputation on holding Khashoggi’s killers accountable and centering its foreign policy on human rights, rather than accommodating autocrats.…  Seguir leyendo »

Energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman © FT montage: Bloomberg/AFP/Getty Images

When Paddy Padmanathan first pitched the idea of introducing a sliver of renewable energy into Saudi Arabia’s electricity supply, the state utility gave him short shrift.

The chief executive of Riyadh-based energy firm ACWA Power recalls being politely told to “go away” in 2007 after it was pointed out that the supplier was receiving oil at a “very competitive price”, far cheaper than solar.

It was a predictable response in the world’s top crude exporter, which has for decades happily burnt billions of barrels of oil to fuel power plants, desalination units and industries at heavily subsidised rates. “The incentive was not there”, says the Anglo-Sri Lankan executive.…  Seguir leyendo »

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 2022. Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Royal Court / Reuters

On October 5, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its ten partner states agreed to slash oil production by two million barrels per day. The decision was at once predictable and shocking. It was predictable because OPEC+, under the leadership of Saudi Arabia, had previously telegraphed plans to reduce oil production. But it was shocking because Saudi Arabia and the United States are close security partners, and top U.S. officials had made repeated personal pleas for the Saudis to keep production up. Many of these officials had hoped that the Saudi government would cooperate, especially in light of rising gasoline prices and broader inflationary pressures.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Oct. 5, a group of oil producers led by Saudi Arabia decided to cut oil production quotas by two million barrels per day starting in November. Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters

Washington is furious at Saudi Arabia: Members of Congress are demanding to freeze all cooperation, halt arms sales for a year and remove American troops and missile systems from the kingdom. President Biden warned of “consequences”.

American rage followed the Oct. 5 decision by OPEC Plus — 23 oil producers led by Saudi Arabia, which includes Russia — to cut oil production quotas by two million barrels per day starting in November.

If the United States follows through on its threats, the Biden administration would be a true maverick in Middle East policy, because no other administration — Republican or Democratic — has ever retaliated against Saudi Arabia in any serious manner for its oil policies.…  Seguir leyendo »

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meeting U.S President Joe Biden in Jeddah, July 2022 Bandar Algaloud / Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court / Reuters

Last week, Saudi Arabia joined Russia and other petroleum-producing nations in the cartel known as OPEC+ in voting to slash oil production at a moment of historically high energy prices and rising inflation. The timing appears designed not only to fuel Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war machine but also to reverse the aggressive work that the U.S. Congress and the Biden administration have done to counter high inflation rates and bring down gas prices. But this hostile action by Washington’s putative friends in Riyadh did offer one silver lining: it showed that the United States has considerable leverage to correct what has become a fundamentally lopsided relationship.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘The Saudi prince has inflicted political damage on the Biden administration a month before the US midterm elections.’ Photograph: Saudi Royal Court/Reuters

In July, Joe Biden traveled to Saudi Arabia and shared a fist bump with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. As a presidential candidate, Biden had promised to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” for its human rights abuses and its seven-year war against Yemen. But a devastating global pandemic and Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine forced him to set these concerns aside in favor of realpolitik. Biden needed the Saudis to increase oil production in order to lower gasoline prices for American consumers, so he swallowed his pride and treated the crown prince as the world leader he aspires to be.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S. President Joe Biden (left) is welcomed by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Alsalam Royal Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on July 15. Royal Court of Saudi Arabia /Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden was never enthusiastic about making a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia to make up with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. And three months after the  fist bump that went ’round the world, it’s easy to see why.

Last week, that fist bump was replaced by a Saudi sucker punch as OPEC+, a cartel of top oil producers, decided to cut its oil production by as much as 2 million barrels per day (though  oil analysts say the cut may prove to be significantly lower). There’s no doubt that the primary motive was to keep prices high and maintain Russian-Saudi and OPEC+ cohesion in anticipation of further economic downturns and perhaps a U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

A demonstrator holds a poster with a picture of journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, 2018. Photograph: Osman Örsal/Reuters

On this day four years ago, the world lost a brilliant thought leader, journalist, husband, father and grandfather: Jamal Khashoggi. As his widow, my loss was compounded by the obfuscation of exactly what happened in the days and weeks leading up to his premeditated murder.

Key pieces of evidence that hold these answers rest in Jamal’s personal devices: two mobile telephones, a laptop and a tablet. I believe those devices will reveal previously undisclosed details about Jamal’s murder that are critical to knowing the full truth and advancing the cause of justice. Those devices are in the possession of the government of Turkey.…  Seguir leyendo »

Loujain al-Hathloul in Riyadh on March 10, 2021. Rania Sanjar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia is officially back in good standing, having spent his summer putting the finishing touches on a wildly successful reputation rehabilitation. The kingdom’s de facto ruler bumped fists with President Biden, who not long ago accused him of heading a “pariah” state; basked in the sycophantic praise of Greek officials in the birthplace of Western democracy; and feasted at the Élysée Palace with President Emmanuel Macron.

Foreign officials sometimes mention the grisly murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi or Saudi atrocities in Yemen, but these fleeting condemnations have started to feel like a rote obligation hastily done so that everyone can get back to angling for oil.…  Seguir leyendo »

Durante los últimos cinco años, Arabia Saudita seguía a los Emiratos Árabes Unidos o estaba sencillamente ausente en los problemas estratégicos clave del Golfo, Oriente Medio y África del Norte. Pero hoy el Reino ha resurgido como actor regional principal, con una lista de deseos de política exterior a la altura de este hecho.

El país se había vuelto hacia adentro porque el ascenso del Príncipe de la Corona Mohammed bin Salman (conocido como MBS), hoy gobernante de facto del Reino, generó una importante redistribución del poder al interior de la familia regente y las estructuras políticas y económicas sauditas, consumiendo la energía de la totalidad de las instituciones clave del estado, mientras muchos de los aliados del país esperaban a ver quién saldría victorioso.…  Seguir leyendo »

Joe Biden tiene un problema saudita

Atacar a Arabia Saudita durante la campaña electoral para la presidencia es casi una tradición en Estados Unidos, y el presidente Joe Biden no fue la excepción. Envalentonado por la indignación en el país por el asesinato del periodista Jamal Khashoggi y la intervención encabezada por Arabia Saudita en Yemen, Biden fue más atrevido que sus predecesores al llamar a Arabia Saudita un “Estado paria”. Fue un paso mal calculado.

Ahora que la guerra en Ucrania eleva los precios de la energía y China consolida más alianzas en el Medio Oriente, Biden viaja miles de kilómetros para intentar reparar una relación que ha llegado a su punto más bajo en sus 80 años de historia, quizá aún peor que después de los ataques del 11 de septiembre de 2001.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center left, and Saudi Arabia's King Salman, right, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Oct. 14, 2019. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

The U.S.-led effort to thwart Russian President Vladimir Putin is being actively undermined by America’s supposed Persian Gulf allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The dictators who run these petrostates are raking in profits from oil sales while sky-high prices are filling Putin’s coffers and hurting the U.S. and European economies. With friends like these, who needs enemies? And why is the Biden administration playing along?

As Putin uses Russia’s energy to both blackmail and punish the West for helping Ukraine, Saudi Arabia’s de factor ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (known as MBS) and UAE Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (known as MBZ) have been rejecting calls to do the one thing in their power that would help: pump more oil.…  Seguir leyendo »

Desde la Hégira (emigración) del profeta Mahoma de la Meca a Medina en el año 622 de nuestra era, la religión musulmana ha marcado la impronta de Arabia Saudí, remozada a partir del siglo XVIII con la labor purificadora e iconoclasta del renovador Abdul Wahab. Han pasado 1400 años, pero como los musulmanes contabilizan en años lunares en la contabilidad islámica estamos en el 1443.

En 1933, hace casi 100 años, se produjo el descubrimiento del petróleo y desde entonces, este país ha girado en torno al oro negro. El petróleo ha hecho posible la transformación económica del país. Islam y petróleo, dos señales de identidad en la historia de Arabia.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘The prime minister’s trip to Riyadh, so soon after a mass execution, shames him personally and shames Britain.’ Boris Johnson arrives at Riyadh airport on Wednesday. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/AFP/Getty Images

Did Boris Johnson feel a flicker of alarm when the news broke that Saudi Arabia had executed 81 men just days before his in trip to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman? The prime minister is not famed for being a man of conscience, but he has a solid grasp of optics. He surely knows that shaking hands with an autocrat who has just overseen a mass killing will harm Britain’s moral standing on the global stage, at a time when this could not be more important.

Since Jamal Khashoggi was lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 and murdered, western leaders have mostly stayed away from the kingdom and avoided photo ops with the crown prince.…  Seguir leyendo »

La relación de EE. UU. con Arabia saudita volvió a empeorar. Después de prohibir las importaciones de petróleo ruso —parte de un amplio conjunto de sanciones económicas impuestas a Rusia por su invasión de Ucrania—, EE. UU. espera que Arabia Saudita y los Emiratos Árabes Unidos (EAU) aumenten su producción para limitar la disparada de los precios, pero se dice que los líderes sauditas y emiratíes estuvieron rechazando las llamadas del presidente estadounidense Joe Biden.

Biden también está buscando otras soluciones. Según se informa, una delegación de EE. UU. visitó Venezuela —con quien EE. UU. había cortado sus relaciones diplomáticas en 2019— para conversar sobre la posibilidad de eliminar las sanciones al petróleo de ese país.…  Seguir leyendo »

A sticker of US president Joe Biden satirically placed at a gas station pointing at the price of gasoline. Photo by Ty O'Neil/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

A short and productive November meeting saw OPEC+ quickly trot out a series of eloquently crafted messages which emphasized that, in spite of rising oil prices and short-term growth demand, the group would be holding firm to its current production plans.

Each communique chimed soundly with the chief cheerleader Saudi energy minister Abdelaziz bin Salman Al Saud’s (AbS) lengthy exposition of the meeting where he made it clear OPEC+ would only increase production by 400kbd per month – as agreed in July – and resist the pressure from the US or other major consuming countries to pump more.

AbS argued that because global demand will ease off and inventories start to fill in December and Q1 of 2022, the market will find a natural balance to serve interests of producers and consumers alike.…  Seguir leyendo »

Paisaje de Marib, Yemen. Foto: Biblioteca de Arte / Art Library Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian. Fernando Varanda

Tema

Arabia Saudí es un actor clave en Yemen. El conflicto actual, que entra en su séptimo año, asiste a un renovado impulso por alcanzar una resolución al tiempo que se recrudece la violencia. El reino saudí ha manifestado su intención de retirarse militarmente de una campaña sin triunfos evidentes, pero hay una serie de factores y desafíos que ponen trabas y preceden a su salida de Yemen.

Resumen

Este análisis pone el foco sobre la política de Arabia Saudí hacia Yemen y los factores que la condicionan en relación con el conflicto. Atendiendo al contexto nacional e internacional, se plantean varios desafíos y líneas de acción que podrían demarcar el futuro de Yemen.…  Seguir leyendo »

An advertisement for Saudi Arabia's city of NEOM

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is planning a $500 billion model city in the desert of northwest Saudi Arabia. Built from scratch, NEOM will purportedly be powered by clean energy, run by artificial intelligence, enhanced by machine learning, serviced by robot maids and flying taxis, and illuminated every night by a giant artificial moon.

History suggests, though, that the tens of thousands of migrant workers who build NEOM will experience few of the upsides of the promised future city or escape the exploitation endured by millions of other migrant workers already toiling in Saudi Arabia. If the large multinational businesses contracted to develop NEOM want to avoid complicity in Saudi's systemic exploitation of migrant workers, they will have to put in place policies and practices that effectively safeguard their workers' rights.…  Seguir leyendo »

Observation deck of the Dubai Frame, which is positioned so visitors can see landmarks of modern Dubai from one side, while older parts of the city are seen from the other. Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images.

The recent doom and gloom between UAE and Saudi Arabia appears to be lifting as both sides soften – there is nothing more sobering than demand destruction looming on the horizon – but unless the hardwired distance between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi is bridged, further OPEC+ negotiations could be derailed and a period of uncapped price volatility ushered in.

This is the second time the UAE has made clear its displeasure with the rudiments of the April 2020 production agreement – the first time was following the November OPEC meeting – and it is hard to imagine either Emiratis or Saudis backing down from their fundamental positions at the next OPEC Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) and set of ministerial meetings.…  Seguir leyendo »

When reports surfaced in April that senior security officials from Saudi Arabia and Iran had met in Baghdad to discuss their two countries' troubled relationship, at least three pertinent observations came to mind about the state of the cold war that has played out in the Gulf region ever since Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979. For one, the arrival of the Biden administration and its distinctly diverging Iran strategy from the Trump administration helped convince the Saudis of the need to recalculate their own approach toward Iran. For another, in pursuing talks, Saudi leaders are suggesting that diplomacy may stand a better chance of achieving their objective of containing Iran than confrontation.…  Seguir leyendo »