Just last month, there stood United States President Joe Biden, fist bumping Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who the U.S. intelligence community says approved the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. It wasn’t a one-off.Continue reading
There’s no need to be surprised by reports that envoys from Saudi Arabia and Iran have been negotiating in secret in Baghdad. Nor by the fact that the negotiations have been vigorously denied. Nor that the Saudi crown prince now has uncommonly constructive things to say (and on the record) about his country’s possible future relationship with Iran.Continue reading
Last week, Loujain al-Hathloul, a Saudi women’s rights activist, was released from her imprisonment. She had been in prison for a thousand days and was jailed on a dubious pretence. The delight of her family and her many supporters has not diminished their sense that al-Hathloul was jailed unjustly, for no reason at all.Continue reading
Review – MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed bin Salman by Ben Hubbard
Ben Hubbard, the New York Times’ man in Beirut, has written a biography of Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s young crown prince and uncrowned king, which will surely be widely read. Continue reading
The disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi writer who vanished into his country’s Istanbul consulate two weeks ago, provoked an immediate and sustained reaction. Continue reading
The spat between Saudi Arabia and Canada seemed, at first, an inexplicable rift. Saudi behaviour, in expelling the Canadian ambassador after a Canadian diplomatic Twitter account judiciously criticised the kingdom’s record on human rights, is widely perceived to be unjustified, unreasonable and nonsensical. But those adjectives are less uncommon in diplomacy these days than one might expect and hope. Continue reading
Foreign policy undertaken unilaterally is disdained and feared. It meets vast, instinctive criticism. Action, especially military action, which is seen to be arbitrary elicits the same response. When democratic states seek to act on the international stage, they desire not only to succeed in their chosen course of action, but also to be seen to be acting justly, within limits, and without caprice. Continue reading
On Syria, the confused state of American policy persists.
This month, the president, Donald Trump, authorised strikes, in tandem with Britain and France, to punish the regime of Bashar al-Assad for its use of chemical weapons in Douma, eastern Ghouta. That might be taken to suggest that the United States and allies were prepared to act – to restrain brutality, to support stability, and to prevent the eruption of general chaos. Continue reading
Today, the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has arrived in Britain, beginning a three-day visit. This British sojourn is part of a global tour which has taken bin Salman to Egypt and which will include a visit to the United States. Continue reading
The biggest of the stories swirling about Donald Trump this week concerns, not a tweet (as is ordinary), but a book.
The president is famously unlettered, professing little time for reading; and others attest that Trump has little interest in any printed matter that does not contain his photograph. Continue reading