Arabia Saudí

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 2024. Evelyn Hockstein / Reuters

Last year, less than a month before Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel changed everything, Israel and Saudi Arabia were negotiating an agreement to normalize ties. After decades of icy relations, Riyadh’s price for peace was admittedly high: in addition to U.S. security guarantees and at least token Israeli concessions on Palestinian sovereignty, Saudi negotiators were demanding access to civilian nuclear technology. Today, despite a fresh push by the Biden administration, such an agreement remains only a remote possibility. With the Israel-Hamas war raging on, even if Saudi officials were interested in talking to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, they would likely find it impossible to negotiate a lasting peace while Arab publics, including their own, are outraged at the humanitarian crisis Israel’s military campaign has created in Gaza.…  Seguir leyendo »

Celebrating Saudi Arabia’s National Day in Riyadh, September 2023. Ahmed Yosri / Reuters

For Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the war in Gaza has created a predicament. Gaza is ruled by Hamas, an Islamist movement that is allied and closely coordinating with Iran and its proxies, who wish to see the destruction of the House of Saud. But given how popular the Palestinian cause is with Saudi citizens, MBS must side with the Palestinians, who are seen throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds as the victims of Israeli aggression and occupation. The Saudi government wants to bolster its security, and it hopes that by normalizing relations with Israel, it can establish a security alliance with the United States and Washington’s regional allies.…  Seguir leyendo »

Residential and commercial buildings, viewed from the Kingdom Center, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday. (Jeremy Suyker/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Lately, we seem to be so inseparable that you might as well call us Evertilova. We have not always been so in step with each other; one of us is quiet, the other unquiet. But there is a matter on which we have always been perfectly united. Over many years we were opponents, sometimes in matches with an intensity that felt personal. Then we became friends, and then we met cancer together. Over the years, 50 of them now, no matter what occurred on the court or in our lives, we shared an understanding that we were engaged in a common cause, one that connected our hearts and amounted to our life’s work: the building of a Women’s Tennis Association tour founded on equality, to empower women in a male-dominated world.…  Seguir leyendo »

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Neom, Saudi Arabia, September 2023. Saudi Press Agency / Reuters

Hamas is going to be able to claim very few victories in its war with Israel, but one that it has already notched is an abrupt halt in the momentum toward a U.S.-brokered deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The Israeli-Saudi agreement would have broken historic ground, normalizing relations between the two countries, bringing Saudi Arabia more firmly into the U.S. security fold, and eliciting Israeli commitments on the Palestinian issue. In fact, fears of an Israeli-Saudi rapprochement may have been one of the key drivers of Hamas’s October 7 attack.

The war leaves Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, in a difficult position, at least in the short term.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Mohammed bin Salman – Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto ruler, who, according to US intelligence officials, approved Khashoggi’s assassination – has managed a near complete rehabilitation of his increasingly autocratic regime.’ Photograph: Bandar Aljaloud/AP

Five years ago, Jamal Khashoggi walked into Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul to pick up a document he needed in order to marry his Turkish fiancée. The journalist never walked out. Inside the consulate, he was ambushed by a 15-member Saudi hit team, who suffocated him and dismembered his body with a bone saw. The death squad then slipped out of Turkey on two charter planes owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

Since then, Mohammed bin Salman – Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto ruler, who, according to US intelligence officials, approved Khashoggi’s assassination – has managed a near complete rehabilitation of his increasingly autocratic regime.…  Seguir leyendo »

El nuevo nacionalismo saudita

Arabia Saudita transita una transformación nacionalista. El 23 de septiembre, Día Nacional Saudita, la gente —especialmente los jóvenes, que constituyen la mayor parte de la población— salió masivamente en todo el Reino a ondear banderas, bailar y maravillarse con los desfiles aéreos. Esta oleada de comportamientos patrióticos, promovida por el líder de facto del país —el príncipe heredero Mohamed bin Salmán, conocido como MBS— permite entender las motivaciones subyacentes a las recientes reformas políticas y económicas sauditas.

Comencemos por el frente de la política exterior: Arabia Saudita acordó la distensión de las relaciones con Irán, facilitada por China; entabló conversaciones con Israel, organizadas por Estados Unidos, para normalizar la relación diplomática; logró ingresar al grupo de los BRICS, las principales economías emergentes; e inició actividades para poner fin a la guerra en Yemen.…  Seguir leyendo »

At a protest in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, September 2023. Raneen Sawafta / Reuters

Israelis may be preoccupied with the bitter battle over controversial judicial reforms proposed by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but another radical effort is getting much less attention. Members of Netanyahu’s far-right cabinet seek nothing less than the de facto annexation of the West Bank. If they get their way, it could have a profound effect on the democratic nature of Israel and on the stability of the Middle East.

When Netanyahu brought two extreme, ultranationalist parties—the Religious Zionist Party and the Jewish Home Party—into his ruling coalition, he effectively handed control of his government to two ideologues: Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is minister of national security, and Bezalel Smotrich, who is finance minister but who has also been given a special role in the defense ministry.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Biden holds a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Sept. 20. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The word that probably best describes the Biden administration’s efforts in public policy is “ambitious”. Most of its initiatives — from infrastructure funding to support for green transformation to aiding Ukraine — are big and bold.

Now, the White House is trying to put together another major effort that, if successful, will be a game changer: the Saudi-Israel normalization. There are many complications that could derail the negotiations. But if a deal comes together, the Middle East’s strongest military and most technologically advanced power (Israel) will be allied to the region’s strongest economic power (Saudi Arabia) — which is still the swing supplier of the world’s oil — under a U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

The U.S.S. Bataan on the Suez Canal in August. Moises Sandoval/U.S. Department Of Defense

The Biden administration is working overtime to consolidate what is arguably Washington’s most significant advantage over its great power rivals, especially China. That advantage lies in the Middle East.

More specifically, the United States has been pushing hard to forge a deal in which Washington would give formal security guarantees to Saudi Arabia and, in return, the Saudis would establish diplomatic ties with Israel, with Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. At the Group of 20 gathering in New Delhi, President Joe Biden and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia exchanged a warm handshake. Last week, a high-level U.S. delegation visited Riyadh to pursue the potential agreement, following two separate trips this summer by the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jordan Henderson es uno de los varios futbolistas de renombre que se han mudado a la Saudi Pro League. AP Photo/Rui Vieira

Para los seguidores del Liverpool como yo, Jordan Henderson era uno de los chicos buenos del fútbol. Fue el capitán del club que recaudó fondos para el Servicio Nacional de Salud del Reino Unido durante la pandemia de covid-19 y apoyó vocalmente a la comunidad LGBTQ+ de Liverpool.

Sin embargo, en julio de 2023, tras 12 años en el Liverpool, Henderson se marchó al Al-Ettifaq, un club de la Pro League de Arabia Saudí, donde las relaciones entre personas del mismo sexo están penalizadas. El salario semanal de Henderson en el Al-Ettifaq es, al parecer, 900 000 dólares, el triple de lo que ganaba en el Liverpool, el cuarto club más rico del mundo.…  Seguir leyendo »

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

Once wary of attempting to bring peace to the Middle East, the Biden administration is now considering a major diplomatic push in the region. The primary goal isn’t to revive the defunct Israeli-Palestinian peace process but rather to bridge the divide between two friends of the United States: to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. U.S. President Joe Biden hinted in late July that an Israeli-Saudi rapprochement could be on the way. Twice in the past month, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has visited Saudi Arabia. Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Washington and Riyadh had agreed on the broad contours of a normalization deal, although major obstacles to such an accord remain.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S. President Joe Biden in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 2022. Evelyn Hockstein / Reuters

The United States appears to be seriously probing a Middle East deal that would normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel. According to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and other reporting, U.S. President Joe Biden harbors ambitious hopes that such a deal could lead to a more integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Middle East. Visible moves back up the rumors: in mid-July, the head of Israeli intelligence visited Washington to discuss the potential deal with White House and CIA officials, and later that month, Biden sent Jake Sullivan, his national security adviser, to Saudi Arabia to discuss the plan with the kingdom’s de facto leader, Mohammed bin Salman.…  Seguir leyendo »

Flags of Saudi Arabia and Israel stand together in a kitchen staging area as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds meetings at the State Department in Washington, DC, October 14, 2021

The New York Times reports that the Biden administration is making a “long-shot bid” to get Israel and Saudi Arabia to normalize relations. Among other things, this step requires overcoming Saudi concerns about Israel’s continued maltreatment of its Palestinian subjects and getting Israel to accept Saudi Arabia’s desire for an advanced civilian nuclear program. You’d think Biden and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken have enough on their hands these days—the war in Ukraine is not going that well, reestablishing constructive relations with China is a challenging task, and they’re apparently trying to reach some sort of informal bargain over Iran’s nuclear program too—but nobody ever accused U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

La gran transformación de Arabia Saudita

Hay experimento de transformación económica y social sin precedentes en curso en Arabia Saudita, el resultado podría tener profundas implicaciones para todo el mundo árabe. La meta principal del plan Visión 2030 del reino es alejar a su economía de los combustibles fósiles. Se trata de un giro oportuno, dado que para cumplir la meta del acuerdo climático de París y reducir el calentamiento global a 1,5° C hay que reducir el 45 % de las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero para 2030 y lograr la neutralidad de emisiones para 2050.

Al mismo tiempo, no es un desafío que se pueda minimizar fácilmente.…  Seguir leyendo »

El acuerdo entre Irán y Arabia Saudí, alcanzado el 10 de marzo bajo los auspicios de China, pretende poner fin a siete años de ruptura diplomática entre ambos países. La formalización de este acercamiento prevé la reapertura de sus embajadas respectivas, la reactivación de acuerdos económicos y securitarios, y obliga a ambas partes a no interferir en sus asuntos internos. ¿Puede este acuerdo significar el fin de las tensiones entre las dos potencias rivales de Oriente Medio? Visto el carácter histórico de esta rivalidad, la desconfianza mutua entre los dos actores regionales y la cantidad de conflictos en los que Riad y Teherán mantienen posiciones opuestas, sería demasiado optimista afirmarlo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud shaking hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 2022. Saudi Press Agency / Handout / Reuters

On March 6, 2023, representatives from Iran and Saudi Arabia met in Beijing for discussions brokered by China. Four days later, Riyadh and Tehran announced that they had decided to normalize relations. This landmark agreement has the potential to transform the Middle East by realigning its major powers, replacing the current Arab-Iranian divide with a complex web of relationships, and weaving the region into China’s global ambitions. For Beijing, the announcement was a great leap forward in its rivalry with Washington.

It was not supposed to be this way. It was the United States that had encouraged Iran and Saudi Arabia to start discussions, in 2021, in an effort to reduce tensions between the Gulf rivals, advance nuclear talks, and bring an end to the conflict in Yemen.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, right, shakes hands with Saudi national security adviser Musaad bin Mohammed al-Aiban, left, as Wang Yi, center, China's most senior diplomat, looks on during a closed meeting held in Beijing on Saturday. (Luo Xiaoguang/Xinhua via AP)

The news that China brokered a rapprochement between bitter rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran came as a shock to many in Washington, stoking fears that Riyadh was defecting to Beijing’s camp after having been a key U.S. partner since the 1940s.

Such worries misapprehend how U.S. partners are responding to growing competition between the United States and China. Pushed to choose between the established order led by Washington and the alternative order proffered by Beijing, our partners are instead choosing “all of the above”. By and large, it is neither the United States nor China they see as most threatening, but the competition between them.…  Seguir leyendo »

El acuerdo vacío entre Arabia Saudí e Irán

El recién anunciado acuerdo de reanudación de las relaciones diplomáticas entre Irán y Arabia Saudí, en el que China hizo de intermediaria, es la última señal de que este país está ejercitando sus músculos en el mundo de la diplomacia internacional. Algunos lo ven como una prueba más del menguante poder e influencia de EE.UU. y de su fatiga en Oriente Medio. De hecho, el acuerdo es menos un signo del letargo estadounidense que un reflejo de circunstancias regionales excepcionales.

De manera más fundamental, el acuerdo no es el hito en que se lo ha querido convertir. Arabia Saudí e Irán son enconados adversarios con una historia de enemistad y desconfianza de más un siglo.…  Seguir leyendo »

It was the handshake heard round the world. Indeed, the agreement between long-time foes Saudi Arabia and Iran to bury the hatchet and re-establish diplomatic relations after years of confrontation and religious hostility, must inevitably take a back seat to the venue and the peacemaker who brokered this landmark pact.

Suddenly, Chinese President Xi Jinping, in his first major initiative just hours after claiming an unprecedented third term in office, has shown his ability to play peacemaker for one of the most toxic relationships in a strategically critical and often unstable region. The mediator role is one that Xi has clearly lusted after for some time, most recently in his offer to broker a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine, viewed with the deepest skepticism by Ukraine and most of its western allies.…  Seguir leyendo »

This week Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will host world leaders for a Chinese-Arab summit.

The timing could not have been sweeter for Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Just hours before China’s President Xi Jinping was due to arrive in the Saudi kingdom for a state visit, a US judge essentially announced what much of the world has come to realize in 2022: the immunity of the comeback Crown Prince.

Just four years ago the Saudi Crown Prince, widely known by his initials MBS, was a pariah on the world stage after officials in his entourage dismembered the US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, according to a US intelligence assessment.…  Seguir leyendo »