Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Showing posts for "Saudi Arabia"

Our New Ally Iran?

by Elliott Abrams

Will the crisis in Iraq lead to a rapprochement with Iran? Will the effort to strike a nuclear deal expand into a broader agreement?

That is the nightmare of many of our allies in the Middle East, including the Gulf Arab states, Jordan, and Israel. My colleague Max Boot in his blog today explains why it is a dangerous idea to think that we have common interests with the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.  At the Commentary Magazine web site, Max has written “Getting Fooled by Iran in Iraq.” Here is an excerpt: Read more »

Kerry Foreign Policy: Does the United States Stand for Anything at All?

by Elliott Abrams

Does the United States stand for anything at all? Do we have a view about, say, slavery, or child prostitution, or the stoning of gays?

What  should be a ridiculous question is raised by Secretary of State Kerry’s offensive obeisance to the Saudis yesterday when visiting Riyadh. Here is the AP story: Read more »

“Plotting to Celebrate Christmas”

by Elliott Abrams

Here’s a non-celebratory story for the new year, from the newspaper Al Akhbar on December 27:

Saudi religious police stormed a house in the Saudi Arabian province of al-Jouf, detaining more than 41 guests for “plotting to celebrate Christmas,” a statement from the police branch released Wednesday night said. Read more »

Generational Change in Saudi Arabia

by Elliott Abrams
Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef salute during a Saudi special forces graduation ceremony near Riyadh September 25, 2012. (Courtesy REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed) Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef salute during a Saudi special forces graduation ceremony near Riyadh September 25, 2012. (Courtesy REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed)

Since the death of modern Saudi Arabia’s founder in 1953, the kingdom has been led by his sons–serving as kings, crown princes, and cabinet ministers. The crown has been passed from brother to brother, not from father to son.

Obviously this system has an inherent and incurable flaw: men grow old. The current king is about 90 and his surviving brothers are mostly in their 80s or 70s–and not all are viewed as eligible for the throne. Some have personal “issues” such as poor health, a pattern of unreliability, or a mother who did not come from a favored Saudi tribe. Yet even as the brothers aged no member of the next generation, grandsons of the founder, has ever been elevated to membership in the cabinet and leadership of a ministry. Until now. Read more »

Shia Unrest in Saudi Arabia

by Elliott Abrams

Though there is not much Western reporting yet on this phenomenon, Shia unrest in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province appears to be growing.

Two recent reports, including interesting amateur films of demonstrations and some violence, can be found in this Arab web site and buried in the New York Times here. The key question is whether the unrest is over or will spread among Saudi Shia. Read more »

Succession in Saudi Arabia

by Elliott Abrams

The death of Saudi crown prince Nayef came as no surprise, for he had been seriously ill for several years. He spent much of the past year outside the Kingdom, for medical treatment in the United States and then recuperation. Since the death in 2011 of the then third in line for the throne, long-time Minister of Defense Prince Sultan, and his replacement at Defense by Riyadh’s long-serving governor Prince Salman, it has been thought that Prince Salman would become crown prince next. That change should come in the next few days, after Nayef’s burial. Read more »

“Destroy all the Churches”

by Elliott Abrams
Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, the Kingdom's grand mufti, prays during the funeral of the Saudi woman and her daughter who were killed in Chad, at the Grand Mosque in Riyadh February 6, 2008 (Courtesy REUTERS/Ali Jarekji). Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, the Kingdom's grand mufti, prays during the funeral of the Saudi woman and her daughter who were killed in Chad, at the Grand Mosque in Riyadh February 6, 2008 (Courtesy REUTERS/Ali Jarekji).

The Middle East Forum reports that

According to several Arabic news sources, last Monday, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, declared that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.” The Grand Mufti made his assertion in response to a question posed by a delegation from Kuwait: a Kuwaiti parliament member recently called for the “removal” of churches (he later “clarified” by saying he merely meant that no churches should be built in Kuwait), and the delegation wanted to confirm Sharia’s position on churches. Accordingly, the Grand Mufti “stressed that Kuwait was a part of the Arabian Peninsula, and therefore it is necessary to destroy all churches in it. Read more »

Turning Point in Bahrain

by Elliott Abrams

February 14 will be the anniversary of the date when demonstrations began in Bahrain last year. More demonstrations will mark the date, and violence is feared.

No events connected to the so-called “Arab Spring” have been as depressing as those in Bahrain. The tiny country (only slightly larger than the city of New York) was long viewed as a peaceful and enlightened place, but by the actual Spring of 2011 Bahrain was mired in sectarian divisions, security force violence, and errors and excesses by the government and the opposition, all worsened by the presence of foreign troops from other Gulf Cooperation Council nations. In the end, dozens were killed and communications between the Sunni government and royal family and the Shia majority had broken down. On February 11, this past Saturday, there were more demonstrations and police used tear gas to break some of them up. Read more »