After a year of boldness, Saudi Arabia is in retreat

Nothing but bad news IN JANUARY this year Muhammad bin Salman, the young deputy crown prince who in effect runs Saudi Arabia, declared an end to his country’s “comatose” foreign policy and a determination to push back against Iran.

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Saudi Arabia’s post-oil future

IF ANYONE needed confirmation that Muhammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince, is a man in a hurry, they got it on April 25th. The 30-year-old unveiled a string of commitments to end the kingdom’s dependence on oil by 2030 which, in themselves, would be a remarkable achievement for a hidebound country.

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Fighting to a standstill

Little left to save AS IS the way of the Middle East, when a ceasefire beckons the fighting intensifies, as the fighters try to press their advantage before the jaw-jaw begins. No sooner had Saudi Arabia talked last week of halting the year-long bombardment of its much poorer neighbour than its air strikes on Yemen resumed. The UN mediator, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, could barely scramble from Sana’a before the capital was struck.

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The unbeautiful south

OFTEN called the forgotten war, the seven-month-old conflict in Yemen deserves the world’s attention given the misery it has caused. Air strikes by the Saudi-led nine-country coalition, fighting on behalf of the deposed government, have hit nearly as many civilians as rebels. A blockade of Yemen’s ports by the coalition has brought the country to the brink of famine.

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A downward spiral

On the road to Sana’a THE start of this month may well come to be seen as the moment that Yemen descended into a prolonged and uncontrollable war. The conflict in the desperately poor nation was already going horribly badly. But the Saudi-led coalition fighting the country’s Houthi rebels has now intensified its campaign, after 60 of its soldiers were killed in a single attack in Maarib on September 4th

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Proxies and paranoia

Welcome back to Aden OFFICIALLY, Saudi Arabia is pleased to see Iran shelve its nuclear ambitions in return for sanctions relief. But behind that thin veil lurks alarm about the potential empowerment of the Sunni kingdom’s long-standing Shia rival. “The Iranian regime is like a monster that was tied to a tree and has finally been set loose,” warns a column in Al Sharq al Awsat, a normally staid Saudi daily that reflects government views.

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