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Saudi Arabia foreign conflicts 2018 - statistics & facts

This dossier illustrates the current foreign political conflicts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since 2017. Though all current foreign political tensions of Saudi Arabia are with its immediate Middle Eastern neighbors, they all are unlike in their nature bare different consequences for the oil rich kingdom.

Since 2015 Saudi Arabia is involved in a war with its southern neighbor Yemen, one of the least developed nations. The upheaval during the Arab spring in 2011 resulted in the dismissal of the former Yemeni regime, but the country failed to implement a new stable government. This helped the uprising of the Houthi rebels who pulled Yemen into a civil war but caused tensions with Saudi Arabia, which shares a porous border with Yemen. Saudi Arabia feared its own security as Houthi missiles are able to reach urban areas within the country. But at the same time, Saudi Arabia has an own Agenda regarding the outcome of the civil war in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign political conflict with Iran can be described as a type of longstanding Cold War between a Sunni-Muslim (more specifically Wahabi) Kingdom and Shia-majority Islamic republic. Both countries did not go to war against each other per se, but in recent years have been involved in proxy wars where both sides have supported in some form opposing parties. For example, the Saudi government accused Iran of supporting financially the Houthi rebels, whose leadership belongs to Shia Islam.

The Qatar Crisis unfolded in Summer 2017 as a diplomatic conflict caused by Saudi Arabia’s allegation against the small Emirate of supporting terrorist groups and giving them a media platform on the Al Jazeera network. Beside Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut off all diplomatic ties with Qatar. Although western countries including the United States decided to stay neutral in this matter, President Trump publicly decided to Side with Saudi Arabia in this dispute, though Qatar is a main military ally in the region and it houses a major US air base.

The latest foreign political crisis of Saudi Arabia involves one of its longstanding allies, Turkey, and was caused by the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The former Washington Post journalist was known for his critical reporting on his native Saudi Arabian government and for which he decided to live in exile in the United States. On October 2nd he attended the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Istanbul to obtain some documents for his upcoming nuptials and was subsequently murdered within a Saudi Arabian mission on Turkish soil.

All those current foreign political conflicts of Saudi Arabia might unfold regionally but they have a wider geo-political implication as Saudi Arabia is one of the largest arms and military equipment buyer. Considering Saudi Arabia’s rivalry with Iran and their proxy conflicts, this can become a serious issue. Moreover as Saudi Arabia has turned internally unstable and unpredictable since the son of the current King, Muhammed bin Salman, has been announced crown prince and turned into the de facto ruler of the country as his father’s health is ailing.


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