Saudi Arabia Coalition

Saudi Arabia has put together a coalition of Sunni Muslim countries to Middle-East-mapfrom a coalition against Yemen.

Saudi Arabia, along with the U.A.E., is at the forefront of the coalition of Arab states coordinating their approach to security. Their goal is to form a joint force of Sunni Arab countries to fight extremism in countries such as Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya. Wall Street Journal

Sunni Saudi Arabia is extremely anti-Shiite.  Shiites constitute 10-15 percent of the Saudi population which poses a threat of rising against the Saudi Kingdom if Iran goes unchecked.  If Iran goes unchecked the Saudi Kingdom could have Iran controlled countries to the north in Iraq and to the south in Yemen.

Iran is not strong enough to go against the Arab states in the coalition:  Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE…  Iran will complain a lot about the bombing of Yemen but not spend many resources on the Houthis.  Iran will continue to support Shiites in Iraq who they now lead and Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria.

There is also concern that a wider Sunni-Shiite conflict could erupt with large foreign players involved (Russia), as well as fears that the chaos could embolden the terrorist groups already active in the region

Continue reading “Saudi Arabia Coalition”

NBC’s Richard Engel: Middle East Allies No Longer Trust U.S. With Intelligence Information

3dmanreadingnewsThe U.S. military was taken by surprise when Saudi Arabia began airstrikes against Yemen this week.

NBC’s Richard Engel reported Friday that U.S. officials were stunned they were not given any notice before Saudi Arabia launched attacks against Houthi rebels. According to Engel, military leaders were finding out about the developments on the Yemen border in real time.

Engel said officials from both the military and members of Congress believe they were not given advanced warning because the Arab nations do not trust the Obama administration after they befriended Iran.

“Saudi Arabia and other countries simply don’t trust the United States any more, don’t trust this administration, think the administration is working to befriend Iran to try to make a deal in Switzerland, and therefore didn’t feel the intelligence frankly would be secure. And I think that’s a situation that is quite troubling for U.S. foreign policy,” Engel said.  WashingtonFreeBeacon

Saudi Arabia Begins Airstrikes In Yemen

saudiarabiayemenmapThe Saudi ambassador to the United States says his country has begun airstrikes against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who drove out the U.S.-backed Yemeni president.

Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir says the operations began at 7 p.m. Eastern time. He says the Houthis, widely believed to be backed by Iran, “have always chosen the path of violence.” He declined to say whether the Saudi campaign involved U.S. intelligence assistance.

Al-Jubeir made the announcement at a rare news conference by the Sunni kingdom, reported the Washington Times

Saudi Arabia is concerned that a Shiite advance in Yemen (along the southern Saudi border) puts that country into the control of Iran.  The Saudi’s have been moving heavy military equipment into areas of Saudi near its border with Yemen.  Now airstrikes have been launched by the Saudi’s against Yemen.

The border between Saudi Arabia and Yemen is tough with mountains in the west and the barren Empty Quarter in the east. There is a 1,800km (1,100mile) Saudi Yemen border fence that runs from the Red Sea coast in the west to the border of Oman in the east.  The Houthi offensive in Yemen has created security concerns in Saudi Arabia. This week Saudi Arabia announced a maritime military base will be built  border in the southern area of Saudi Arabia, close to its border with Yemen.

Online:  VOA-Saudi Arabia Launches Airstrikes in Yemen

Queen Elizabeth II and Crown Prince Abdullah Anecdote

queen-elizabeth-landroverA humorous anecdote about Saudi King Abdullah was when then Crown Prince Abdullah  was invited to Balmoral in 1998.  Queen Elizabeth II offered to give the Crown Prince a tour around the estate.  Little did the Crown Prince expect the Land Rover driver to be Queen Elizabeth.  The Queen whose driving skills were learned during World War II when she was a princes and was trained as a mechanic and military truck driver for the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service of the British Army..  A Queen that drives like the wind!  I think Queen Elizabeth did it intentionally to prove a point.

Sunday Time excerpt from the memoir “Ever the Diplomat” by British diplomat Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles,who was Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2003-07.

 


Ever the Diplomat is available at Amazon.

Saudi King Abdullah Has Died

king-abdullah-saudi-arbiaSaudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has died in hospital, announced early Friday on state TV.  King Abdullah was a powerful U.S. ally who joined in the fight against al-Qaida and sought to modernized the ultraconservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah also spent billions of dollars spreading the Wahhabis version of Islam around the world.

His  79-year-old half-brother, Prince Salman was announced as King Abdullah’s successor, according to a Royal Court statement carried on the Saudi Press Agency.

When Fahd died in 2005, Abdullah officially rose to the throne. He then began to more openly push his agenda.

His aim at home was to modernize the kingdom to face the future. One of the world’s largest oil exporters, Saudi Arabia is fabulously wealthy, but there are deep disparities in wealth and a burgeoning youth population in need of jobs, housing and education. More than half the current population of 20 million is under the age of 25. For Abdullah, that meant building a more skilled workforce and opening up greater room for women to participate. He was a strong supporter of education, building universities at home and increasing scholarships abroad for Saudi students.

Abdullah for the first time gave women seats on the Shura Council, an unelected body that advises the king and government. He promised women would be able to vote and run in 2015 elections for municipal councils, the only elections held in the country. He appointed the first female deputy minister in a 2009. Two Saudi female athletes competed in the Olympics for the first time in 2012, and a small handful of women were granted licenses to work as lawyers during his rule.

One of his most ambitious projects was a Western-style university that bears his name, the King AbdullahUniversity of Science and Technology, which opened in 2009. Men and women share classrooms and study together inside the campus, a major departure in a country where even small talk between the sexes in public can bring a warning from the morality police.

The changes seemed small from the outside but had a powerful resonance. Small splashes of variety opened in the kingdom — color and flash crept into the all-black abayas women must wear in public; state-run TV started playing music, forbidden for decades; book fairs opened their doors to women writers and some banned books. Read more at CSMonitor

The Looming Saudi Succession Situation

king-abdullah-saudi-arbiaThis month, the Saudi royal court issued a  statement that King Abdullah’s hospital admittance was for treatment of pneumonia Continuing concern of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia’s aging monarch health has increased speculation about who will rule Saudi Arabia in the future. Controversy mounted last year when for the first time a deputy heir to the Saudi throne was appointed.

Unlike most other monarchies the Saudi line of succession has been from brother to brother among the sons of Ibn Saud instead of the father-son method.  King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, decreed only that his first son would inherit the throne, and over the subsequent successions passed  from brother to brother roughly in order of their age.  Ibn Saud had 52 children, of which 37 were boys, by several different wives and concubines.

King Abdullah’s successor would be his half brother Crown Prince Salman, who is seventy-eight and is said to be suffering from dementia.  The rivalries in the House of Saud  has made it impossible for Abdullah to replace Crown Prince Salman.  Passing over claims of other half brothers, King Abdullah appointed Mugrin, the youngest surviving son of founder Ibn Saud, to the new position of deputy crown prince.  The confirmation of Mugrin by the Allegiance Council was not unanimous.  Muqrin’s new status also challenges another presumed succession principle: that the king’s mother should be from a Saudi tribe. Muqrin’s mother was a Yemeni  concubine,  was no formal  marriage to Ibn Saud.  There is griping by some that have been left out of the looming transfer of power and strife from those who do not see Mugrin as a Saudi Prince but instead of as the son of a slave.

“He is not a real prince; his mother was a slave and there are other brothers who are more competent,” said a former Saudi official who spoke to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity because criticizing the royal family is imprudent. “Nobody believes Muqrin can become king.”

Online:  Saudi King in Hospital: Succession Crisis Looms

 

Saudi Arabia Gives $1 Billion Grant To Lebanon To Fight Terrorist

HaririKing Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has issued an order to give Lebanon one billion dollars to fight the terrorist onslaught in the north of the country.   This week ISIS terrorist stormed across the Lebanese border with fighting in Arsal, where many have taken refuge from the Syrian war.

Lebanese Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Lebanon is facing an unprecedented terror attack at the hands of takfiri militants, saying that the $1 billion Saudi grant is meant to support the efforts of the Lebanese Army and other security apparatuses in crushing terrorism.

“In the name of the Lebanese state and Lebanese people, I would like to extend my thanks for this generous grant, and accordingly I will start contacting the prime minister and the state’s officials to meet the urgent needs of the Army and security forces,” Hariri told a press conference in the Saudi port city of Jeddah…

The former premier renewed accusations that Hezbollah’s military role in the Syrian civil war drew retaliatory action by Sunni militants and blamed their actions for a series of car bomb attacks and security escalations across the border, the latest of which was the overrunning of Arsal by Al-Qaeda-linked gunmen from Syria’s Nusra Front and Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

Online:  Saudi $1B grant specifically to crush terrorism

 

 

Saudi Arabia Barricades Its Borders

Is Saudi Arabia terrified of its neighbors?

The country with the largest border fence market in the world is Saudi Arabia with a forecasted budget (2009-2018) of $20 billion.

Saudi Arabia first built a separation barrier along its 900km(560 miles) border with Iraq.  After the northern security barriers where finished construction began on a separation barrier along the 1,800km(1,100 mi) border with Yemen.  Then Saudi Arabia tripled the length of its border security barriers to additionally cover Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE; with a final cost estimate close to $40 billion.

In 2011, the Saudis increased their Homeland Security & Public Safety procurement budget by 46%; cumulative cost $70 billion, making them the highest per capital spenders on Homeland Security & Public Safety in the world. Saudi Arabia is almost entirely walled in.

In 2014, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah inaugurated the first phase of the border security project along the northern frontier of the  kingdom, soon after ISIS’s Sunni insurgency swept across Iraq.

saudidefences

The multi-layered barrier, which will eventually stretch across the Saudi-Iraq border from Jordan to Kuwait, includes 78 monitoring towers, eight command centers, 10 mobile surveillance vehicles, 32 rapid-response centers, and three rapid intervention squads, reports Janes.com. The capture of the Mosques at Medina and Mecca is a key ISIS objective.

iraqsaudiborder
Security barriers on the Iraq and Yemen borders.

Saudi Arabia’s policy for homeland security spending is: “No Expense Spared.” High-tech border security.  A border security system of fences, watchtowers, radar, day/night cameras, communications with links to command centers, razor-wire fence, sand berm barriers, no-man-land areas, and mines. Continue reading “Saudi Arabia Barricades Its Borders”