For many years, the conventional wisdom in Washington has been that Saudi Arabia and the United States share common interests but that they adhere to a completely different set of values. While that might have been the case when the relationship first began some 80 years ago, it is not the case today.
From Saad Hariri’s resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister to the Houthi missile attack on Saudi Arabia, the Middle East is again in uproar, thanks to the acute Iranian threat America’s regional partners perceive. Without a U.S.-led initiative to limit Iran’s regional sway, U.S. allies will act on their own and escalate regional crises.
The war in Yemen is reshaping the armed forces of Arab Gulf states. Abu Dhabi and, to a lesser extent, Riyadh, are turning from “praetorian” regime security-oriented armies to professional forces with foreign projection capabilities and a national-militaristic rhetoric.
The crisis between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon and the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri appears to be largely about Yemen, says Paul Salem, Sr. Vice President for Policy Analysis, Research, and Programs at the Middle East Institute.
Looting and trafficking of antiquities in the Middle East and North Africa has reached unprecedented levels since the rise of ISIS. In a region with tens of thousands of archaeological sites, antiquities are as easily accessible as oil for terrorist groups.