Saudi Arabia’s New Succession Plan Shakes Up the Middle East

Saudi Arabia – along with Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt – abruptly broke off diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, then followed that up with an ultimatum and a 10-day deadline to respond. The first of 13 unreasonable demands targets Iran, Saudi Arabia’s key rival in the region by urging Qatar to curb diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions. Author Dilip Hiro reviews a history of antagonism between two monarchies as Saudi Arabia resists Qatar’s incremental steps toward freedom expression with an elected parliament, funding of Al Jazeera renowned for investigative journalism in the Arab world, and efforts to maintain Sunni-Shia ties by maintaining good relations with Iran. The US has a major base in Qatar, and its divided response does not help: The president throws full support behind Saudi Arabia, and diplomats and military leaders urge mediation. The Saudi king has approved a new line of succession, selecting a 31-year-old son as crown prince. Prince Muhammad bin Salman has a track record of endorsing aggressive moves against Iran, Yemen and now Qatar, and the expectation that other Arab nations will fall in line introduces more instability into a region that is already so volatile and violent. – YaleGlobal