"28 pages" on Saudi Arabia's potential involvement are expected to be declassified soon—but may not offer a smoking gunby Rupert Stone / June 7, 2016 / Leave a comment
These are trying times for Saudi Arabia. In January the Iranian nuclear deal went into effect, granting Iran a limited ability to enrich uranium along with significant sanctions relief. Unsurprisingly this raised concerns in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital, that the kingdom’s main rival in the region was moving closer to a nuclear weapons capability. Moreover, freed from heavy economic sanctions, Iran might soon have more cash to strengthen its already-potent network of Middle-Eastern proxies. In Syria, Iran’s long-time ally Bashar al-Assad remains in power, despite years of Saudi opposition to his regime, and shows no sign of leaving anytime soon. Likewise in Yemen, the Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels seized control of the the country’s largest city Sana’a in a coup. Despite a military intervention by Saudi Arabia last year, they still haven’t budged.
Rights groups and the United Nations have strongly condemned the Saudis for targeting civilians in Yemen—Human Rights Watch alleges that the Saudis are possibly committing war crimes. The British and American governments have been criticized for assisting the Saudi air campaign with arms sales. The kingdom’s human rights record has also sparked outrage, especially the planned beheading and crucifixion (yes, that’s right) of a young activist. Then there is Saudi Arabia’s apparent support for Sunni religious extremism, which has spurred the US Congress into action. One new bill is currently in the works that would place restrictions on military aid. Another, which allows state-sponsors of terror to be sued in US courts, has just passed the Senate. This second bill came after relatives of 9/11 victims tried to sue the kingdom for supporting the attackers, but had their case dismissed on grounds of sovereign immunity.