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You searched for: Content Type Special Report Remove constraint Content Type: Special Report Publishing Institution Middle East Institute (MEI) Remove constraint Publishing Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI) Political Geography Saudi Arabia Remove constraint Political Geography: Saudi Arabia
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  • Author: Bilal Y. Saab
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: An Iran-Saudi Arabia war is unlikely, but it is now more likely than ever before. A military confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran should command respect and inspire concern because it could cause tremendous harm to an already volatile Middle East and possibly to the global economy. Iran seems to have an upper hand in a direct military confrontation with Saudi Arabia because of its combat experience, geography, manpower, strategic depth, and greater cost tolerance. However, none of these attributes give Iran any decisive advantages in a contest with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is neither helpless nor without military options. While it is easy to start a war with Iran, it is anything but to finish it. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would have to think hard about the capabilities of the Saudi military and the resilience of Saudi society before embarking on such a risky course. In any war dynamic between Iran and Saudi Arabia, U.S. military intervention or support would be the most decisive exogenous factor for both Riyadh and Tehran. The United States has a security commitment to Saudi Arabia, but the extent to which Washington can tolerate subtle Iranian aggression against the kingdom that falls below the threshold of conventional warfare, while potentially upending Saudi stability, is unclear.
  • Topic: Security, Military Affairs, Conflict, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Shahrokh Fardoust
  • Publication Date: 06-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The region has incurred huge economic and social losses from poor economic management and conflicts requiring massive military outlays. A policy shift is needed to deploy its substantial human, natural, and financial assets more efficiently through adopting economic and social policies that lead to more rapid and inclusive economic growth in the Middle East and North Africa. The four most powerful players in the region—Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, and Turkey—need to spearhead regional political and economic stabilization to address the root problems. Major regional infrastructure projects in energy, water, and transport are needed to better integrate their economies and expand intra-regional and world-wide trade. This policy paper argues that the major regional players should each follow a coherent long-term development strategy requiring four prongs plus cooperation: Reduce regional tensions and end conflicts through diplomacy and by recognizing that the current approaches are impeding investment and economic growth. Undertake significant economic and institutional reforms at home to remove binding constraints on growth, revitalize the private sector, improve financial access by small and medium-sized businesses, and improve the quality of education. Focus on well-targeted policies and structural reforms that would lead to significant reductions in youth employment and increased female labor force participation; and introduce cuts in military expenditures as regional tensions subside, and reallocate public investment savings to clean energy and infrastructure investments. Increase inter- and intra-regional cooperation and trade, initiate regional projects in partnership with the private sector in areas such as tourism, air and ground transport, regional energy and water, regional health and education, and research hubs. To support these initiatives, a regional development and reconstruction program supported by a 'mini-Marshall Plan' is urgently needed.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Infrastructure, Reform, Regional Integration
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Ross Harrison
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: In this MEI Policy Paper, Ross Harrison asserts that a new regional order is emerging out of the conflicts of the Middle East. The relationships among the pillars of this order--Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iran--are crucial, as they will largely determine "whether the future of the Middle East will be a continuation of the current chaos and destruction or a more positive transition toward stability and prosperity." Harrison argues that global powers must concentrate on creating conditions conducive to cooperation among the pillars.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Geopolitics, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Charles Schmitz
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Facing popular protests, a secessionist movement in the south, a spiraling security crisis, and a deep fracturing of political factions, Yemen’s political elite acceded to the Gulf initiative in 2011, which established a caretaker transitional government. The agreement signed in Riyadh stipulated a two-year transitional period and created a National Dialogue Conference (NDC) as a forum to solve the country’s political problems. The results of the National Dialogue will form the basis for a new constitution, and Yemenis will then elect a new government to conclude the transitional period. The National Dialogue has concluded, but it is not clear whether it can really solve Yemen’s political problems. The two-year transitional period ended without a new constitution or elections—these will be held at some undetermined later date—and facts on the ground may be outpacing the deliberations of the political elite and their international backers. The government cannot prevent attacks on its oil pipelines or electrical grid; al-Qa`ida operates with almost impunity in the capital city Sana; the Houthi movement is expanding its area of control, recently taking the symbolically important towns of Huth in Amran and Dammaj in Sa`ada; and the south remains unsettled and far from accepting of any solutions proposed by the Sana elite. In February 2014 the committee created to “resolve” the issue of southern rebellion decided on a federal system of government composed of six regions. Yet most Yemenis do not know what federalism is, and what’s more, they don’t care. Deteriorating security and the rise of poverty have overwhelmed any interest most citizens might have in the details of the elite’s visions for the future of the country. Both Saudi Arabia and the United States, the most important foreign actors in Yemen and backers of the Gulf initiative, are focused on their own regional interests, sometimes to the detriment of Yemeni interests. The Saudis want to maintain their influence on the Yemeni government, fight Iranian influence, and control threats from Yemeni soil spilling over into Saudi Arabia. However, the Saudis recently expelled from the Kingdom hundreds of thousands of Yemeni workers, exacerbating Yemen’s desperate economic situation. The United States is focused on al-Qa`ida and Iran. The American drone campaign continues to wreak havoc, recently killing members of a wedding party in spite of President Obama’s new procedures to bring the targeted assassinations under the color of law, and the United States seems unable to relinquish its misperception that the Houthis in Sa`ada constitute a new Hezbollah. With such deep divisions in Yemen’s political body and in the competing regional agendas of Yemen’s foreign backers, Yemen’s prospects for a peaceful political settlement that will allow the country to stabilize and grow seem dim.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Conflict, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, United States of America, Gulf Nations