Mohammed Alkhereiji is the Arab Weekly’s Gulf section editor.

  • Power reset in Saudi Arabia to deal with challenges at home and in region, On: Sun, 25 Jun 2017

  • New crown prince widely welcomed in Saudi Arabia, On: Sun, 25 Jun 2017

  • Saudi Arabia and allies make Qatar grievances official, On: Sun, 25 Jun 2017

  • Gulf crisis continues as Doha refuses to address issues of contention , On: Sun, 18 Jun 2017

  • As it sides with Qatar, Turkey tries to pre-empt own isolation, On: Sun, 18 Jun 2017

  • Kuwait mediation fails to defuse GCC dispute over Qatar stands, On: Sun, 04 Jun 2017

  • GCC-Qatar spat showcased in Gulf’s Arab media, On: Sun, 04 Jun 2017

  • Saudi-US initiative targets terrorist financial networks , On: Sun, 28 May 2017

  • In Saudi visit, Trump seeks to build bridges with Arabs, Muslims, On: Sun, 21 May 2017

  • UAE, US sign defence accord ahead of Riyadh summit, On: Sun, 21 May 2017

  • Arab-Islamic-US summit touted as ‘historic event’, On: Sun, 14 May 2017

  • Tough words from Saudi deputy crown prince in times of change, On: Sun, 07 May 2017

  • Yemen will likely be the focus of Trump’s Saudi visit, On: Sun, 07 May 2017

  • Riyadh restores allowances, renews reform pledge, On: Sun, 30 Apr 2017

  • Mattis sees Saudi Arabia ‘helping across the region’, On: Sun, 23 Apr 2017

  • Houthis intensify crackdown on dissent in Yemen, On: Sun, 23 Apr 2017

  • Pakistani general to head Islamic Military Alliance , On: Sun, 09 Apr 2017

  • Saudi-Egyptian meeting a key moment of summit , On: Sun, 02 Apr 2017

  • Saudis positive on Trump meeting with deputy crown prince , On: Sun, 19 Mar 2017

  • Terror plot revelations mark King Salman’s Far East tour , On: Sun, 12 Mar 2017

  • Omani-Kuwaiti drive gets no traction in GCC , On: Sun, 26 Feb 2017

  • Rohani’s GCC visit barely makes waves, On: Sun, 19 Feb 2017

  • Trump reaches out to GCC leaders , On: Sun, 05 Feb 2017

  • No tears shed in GCC over Obama’s exit , On: Sun, 29 Jan 2017

  • Aoun completes fence-mending trip to Saudi Arabia , On: Sun, 15 Jan 2017

  • Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030: Clerics will fall in line , On: Sun, 15 Jan 2017

  • Oman resets GCC ties, joins Saudi anti-terrorism coalition , On: Sun, 08 Jan 2017

  • Diplomacy fails Yemen during the past year , On: Sun, 25 Dec 2016

  • Qatari authorities block news site locally, On: Sun, 11 Dec 2016

  • OPEC deal sends crude oil prices soaring , On: Sun, 04 Dec 2016

  • After false start, ceasefire takes effect in Yemen , On: Sun, 20 Nov 2016

  • Saudi investments in US said safe despite JASTA , On: Sun, 20 Nov 2016

  • Trump victory shocks the GCC , On: Sun, 13 Nov 2016

  • Oil politics bring Saudi Arabia and Russia together , On: Sun, 30 Oct 2016

  • JASTA reverberates throughout Gulf region , On: Sun, 09 Oct 2016

  • Saudi women challenge male guardianship law , On: Sun, 02 Oct 2016

  • Saudi Arabia calls for UN reform , On: Sun, 25 Sep 2016

  • Smooth running of the haj as 1.8 million attend , On: Sun, 18 Sep 2016

  • GCC, Arab League blast US 9/11 lawsuit legislation , On: Sun, 18 Sep 2016

  • Power reset in Saudi Arabia to deal with challenges at home and in region

    Hopes are pinned on the new crown prince to carry on with his reformist agenda.

    Young leadership. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz. (AP)

    2017/06/25 Issue: 112 Page: 1

    London- The appointment of Mo­hammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz as Saudi crown prince seems a reflection of changing times and a harbinger of more changes to come in the kingdom.

    Hopes are pinned on the new crown prince to carry on with his reformist agenda. Since his ap­pointment in 2015 as deputy crown prince, Crown Prince Mohammed, the architect of the Vision 2030 pro­gramme, has spearheaded efforts to wean the Saudi economy from its dependence on oil.

    The aborted terror attack in Mecca on June 23 served as a reminder that the threat of the Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaeda is still an issue Saudi authorities must reckon with.

    The Saudi leadership is expected to continue its assertive foreign poli­cies in addressing regional challeng­es, particularly as they pertain to the war in Yemen, Iran’s destabilisation activities and the crisis with Qatar.

    Tehran, which already feels the pressure from the common stanc­es of Washington and Riyadh, has reacted angrily to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s pledging “sup­port of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transi­tion of that government.”

    The more immediate challenge for Riyadh, however, is the crisis stem­ming from Qatar’s refusal to change policies that are seen by its neigh­bours as a threat to regional stability and security.

    Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt on June 5 severed diplomatic ties and economic and travel links to Qatar, saying there could be no normalisa­tion until Doha stops its support of Islamic extremists and interference in the internal affairs of other coun­tries.

    A list of the grievances transmit­ted to Doha included demands that it cut ties with the Muslim Brother­hood and other extremist groups, stop funding terrorist organisa­tions, shut down the Al Jazeera network and withdraw funding of other hostile media outlets, curb ties with Iran and close a Turkish military base in Qatar.

    Doha, however, showed no inter­est in accommodating the demands or in negotiating until sanctions were lifted. With its ambassador in Washington claiming his country’s situation “is very comfortable,” de­spite the sanctions it faces, Qatar is likely to face continued isolation for some time.

    “The four countries can afford to wait, but Qatar cannot,” Fawaz Ger­ges, a Middle East expert at the Lon­don School of Economics, told the Associated Press “This crisis could threaten the political stability of the ruling family in Qatar in the long term if it lasts.”

    Qatar’s neighbours have ex­pressed determination to continue the sanctions for the long haul. “The measures that have been tak­en are there to stay until there is a long-term solution to the issue,” said UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousef al-Otaiba.

    The Gulf countries and Egypt hinted at tighter measures against Qatar but in the envisioned sanc­tions, “there is no military element to this whatsoever,” Otaiba said.

    This would mean the increased isolation of Qatar and its drifting away from the Gulf Cooperation Council while Doha seeks the sup­port of Turkey and Iran and plays on the ambiguities stemming from Washington’s mixed signals. While US President Donald Trump de­nounced Qatar’s role in financing terrorism “at the highest level,” the US State Department seemed more ambivalent in the stand-off be­tween Doha and its neighbours.

    A lot will depend on how and whether Qatar deals with the mounting pressures. Despite assur­ances to the contrary, Doha is show­ing signs of stress. Government institutions and oil companies are cancelling leave and departure per­mits for employees.

    “Certain government bodies can­celled leave so staff were present to help with vital planning such as chartering new shipping routes and getting food into the country,” a Qa­tari official told Reuters.

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