Saudi Arabia

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  • Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Thinking and the Pakistani Connection

    Riyadh anticipates that in the long run a nuclear Iran will be challenging Saudi’s proxy conflicts with Iran in states like Palestine, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria. Amidst such concerns, Riyadh’s rejection of a UN Security Council seat in October 2013 followed by the revelation of the BBC news about possible nuclear weapons cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in November 2013 has raised questions whether Riyadh aspires to acquire nuclear weapons capability.

    January 07, 2014

    Post-Morsi Egypt: Saudi Manoeuvring and Iranian Dilemma

    The issue brief analyses the changing patterns of relationship of Saudi Arabia and Iran, the two major players in the Gulf, with Egypt in the backdrop of the removal of Morsi.

    September 27, 2013

    The Islamist Challenge in West Asia: Doctrinal and Political Competitions After the Arab Spring

    The Islamist Challenge in West Asia: Doctrinal and Political Competitions After the Arab Spring
    • Publisher: Pentagon Press
      2013

    Following the Arab Spring, the West Asia-North Africa (WANA) region is witnessing interactions between the various strands of Islamism-Wahhabiya in Saudi Arabia; the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its affiliates in other Arab countries, and the radical strand represented by Al Qaeda and its associated organisations - in an environment of robust competition and even conflict. This work examines these issues in some details. It provides an overview of the political aspects of Islamic law – the Sharia, as it evolved from early Islam and, over the last two hundred years, experienced the impact of Western colonialism. This book draws on a rich variety of source material which has been embellished by the author’s extensive diplomatic experience in the Arab world over three decades.

    • ISBN 978-81-8274-737-1,
    • Price: ₹. 695/-
    • E-copy available
    2013

    Anasur Rahman asked: Why is Saudi Arabia, being a Wahhabi Sunni-dominated nation, opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, unlike Qataris, and supports the interim regime there?

    Gulshan Dietl replies: The Brotherhood is primarily political seeking to confront the imperialist West as also the godless regimes in West Asia. The Saudis, on the other hand, follow Wahhabism, which is primarily religious seeking to purify Islam and restore it to its original glory. At the peak of pan-Arab ideology across the Arab world, Saudi Arabia had provided asylum to the members of the Muslim Brotherhood who sought refuge from Nasser’s Egypt or Hafez al-Assad’s Syria. Since then, the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood have been on divergent paths. Beyond the ideological differences, there are serious political considerations. The onset of “Arab Spring” has seen the ascendance of Muslim Brotherhood in post-Spring states. Egypt has always been an influential regional power in West Asia. The Muslim Brotherhood there could be an inspiration for pro-democracy movements and consequently a threat to stability in the Kingdom. The former Saudi Minister of Interior Prince Nayef was reported to have said, “The Muslim Brotherhood is the cause of most of the Arab World’s problems and has done vast amounts of damage in Saudi Arabia.” Unsurprisingly, therefore, the Saudis have generously supported the interim regime in Egypt.

    The Saudi-Qatari rivalries run deep in spite of the fact that both follow Wahhabism, are rich in energy resources, are ruled by monarchies and have strategic ties with the US. Qatar has a small population and an enormous wealth. In the circumstances, the “Arab Spring” did not manifest itself in Qatar. In fact, it provided the country an opportunity to project its role in the region and beyond. The new ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim al-Thani, is expected to bring about reconciliation between the two royal dynasties.

    Manudev Jain asked: What is there for Saudi Arabia in the India-Saudi partnership, and what is there for India, besides oil?

    Gulshan Dietl replies: Saudi Arabia is a unique country at least in two specific details. One, it possesses more than a quarter of the global oil reserves and has been the largest oil producer for over half-a-century and, more importantly, it is the only country with a spare production capacity. Two, the holiest Islamic shrines are located in Makkah and Medina, placing the country in the epicentre of the Muslim sacred space. In economic terms, oil is the largest component in India-Saudi Arabia relations. One-fourth of India’s oil imports come from Saudi Arabia, making it the fourth largest trading partner for India and India is the fifth largest market for the Saudi exports. The trade between the two stands at $36 billion annually. Nearly two million Indians work in Saudi Arabia, and 136,000 Indians visit Saudi Arabia for performing Hajj every year.

    The Saudis are keen to cooperate with India in educational, research and technological fields. We have agreed to set up institutions of higher learning in Saudi Arabia as also to provide educational opportunities for Saudi students in India. There are Memoranda of Understanding between the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and the Saudi Arabian Standards Organisation, the Indian Institute of Science and the King Saud University, the Indian Space Research Organisation and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, and so on.

    Since last year, there are moves to develop cooperation between the defence establishments of both the countries. Last year, the Saudis deported Abu Jundal, who was wanted in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, making counter terrorism a key area of cooperation between the two countries.

    Abid Khan asked: What are the possible consequences of the development of a new US base in Socotra Island on the Bab al-Mandeb region? What effect would the escalated US/Allied presence in the Gulf have over Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea area?

    Sarabjeet Singh Parmar replies:The Island of Socotra lies in an extremely strategic position, 80 kilometres due east of the Horn of Africa and about 380 kilometres south of Yemen. Measuring 120 by 40 kilometres, the island occupies a vantage position in the North Western Arabian Sea and commands a dominating position over the waters of the Red sea and Gulf of Aden as well as the waters south of the exit point from the Strait of Hormuz into the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Therefore, from a military view point, the Socotra archipelago is of significant strategic importance. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union had a military presence in Socotra, which at the time was part of South Yemen.

    As per reports, the US since 2010, has been secretly building infrastructure on Socotra that would support air, sea and land operations. In addition, the US is also reported to be using the Omani island of Masirah. This 70 kilometre long island, about 1000 kilometres north of Socotra, lies just south of the Hormuz Strait entry point to the Gulf of Oman and equals Socotra in strategic importance. These islands would give the US the flexibility to deploy its assets over a wider area and specifically out of the Gulf region where it faces Iran, yet remaining within striking range.

    As per reports, the region is witnessing the heaviest buildup of US forces since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. The implications are staggering. The steady and heavy militarisation of this region can only possibly point to the growing US preparation to take on Iran in case of a conflict. This is an aspect that has implications for the resident nations in the region. US bases and presence on these islands would not only aid the US in strengthening its presence in the IOR but also reduce the load on Diego Garcia (Diego Garcia is around 3000 kilometres south and in size is comparatively much smaller) in terms of aiding more strategic poise and in the ability to support more assets.

    However, the veracity of the reports is suspect as such a development would have caught the attention of the world as it cannot remain hidden for long.

    Antony’s Visit to Saudi Arabia: Boosting Defence Ties

    Strengthening defence ties and broadening defence engagement between India and Saudi Arabia was the principal objective of Antony’s visit to Riyadh.

    February 21, 2012

    Protests in the Arab World: Implications for the Region and India

    The ongoing protests against undemocratic regimes in West Asia and North Africa have sent shockwaves throughout the region. This Brief analyses the protests in the Arab world and their implications for the region and India.

    March 31, 2011

    The Saudi Succession Puzzle

    By establishing an organized process of selection and factoring in contingencies, King Abdullah is hoping for a smooth and orderly transition. But age and health are not on his side and the current wave of political unrest in the region has only complicated the challenges facing him.

    March 28, 2011

    Challenges for Saudi Arabia amidst Protests in the Gulf

    Saudi Arabia’s concerns about regional stability and its domestic vulnerabilities have risen to the fore amidst popular protests in the Gulf region.

    March 25, 2011

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