Saudi Arabia

European Union - EU News Today

The European Union is preparing an overhaul of its listing of countries that pose money-laundering risks, an EU confidential document shows, a review that could allow Saudi Arabia to be moved to a new grey list after having been briefly blacklisted. The EU executive added the oil-rich kingdom in February to its blacklist of 23 jurisdictions that represent a threat to the bloc because of lax controls against terrorism financing and money laundering, but after Saudi pressure the list was struck down by EU states. Fearful of the economic impact of that listing, European governments led by Britain and France said the EU executive commission had given no chance to Saudi Arabia and other listed states to address concerns. Required by EU rules to adopt a list, the commissioner in charge of the issue, Czech liberal Vera Jourova, went back to the drawing board and has now come up with a revised process to list countries. Instead of directly blacklisting those with shortfalls, the new process would be based on a “staged approach” under which risk countries would need to commit to changing their rules and practices by set deadlines, the document seen by Reuters said. This would effectively produce a grey list of jurisdictions that would be blacklisted only if they failed to apply required reforms, a European official told Reuters. BEFORE G20? Saudi Arabia, the largest economy included in the original blacklist, would likely be relegated to the less contentious grey list, the official said, a move thatHere's the full story.

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Saudi Arabia Policemen

An exiled academic and political dissident says Saudi authorities have launched a new arrest campaign against Palestinian expatriates living in the conservative kingdom. “There is an intensified campaign to arrest more Palestinians living in the kingdom, with the same charges that have so far been leveled against some 60 Palestinians. The arrest campaign will involve a number of Egyptian citizens,” Saeed bin Nasser al-Ghamdi wrote in a post published on his official Twitter page on Saturday. Ghamdi added that Saudi officials have recently released 20 Palestinian and Egyptian women, whom they had arrested during the Hajj pilgrimage last year on charges of Ghamdi added that Saudi officials have recently released 20 Palestinian and Egyptian women, whom they had arrested during the Hajj pilgrimage last year on charges of affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood. He added that the women were being kept in Dhahban Central Prison near the Red Sea port city of Jeddah. They have apparently been warned not to talk about their detention situation. Prisoners of Conscience, which is an independent non-governmental organization seeking to promote human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a series of posts on its official Twitter page on June 11 that more than 150 Palestinians were languishing in Saudi detention centers. Some 40 Palestinians were arrested in Jeddah alone. The rights group added that Saudi intelligence agents had committed rights abuses against Palestinians during and after their arrest. Arabic-language al-Khaleej Online news website reported last month that Saudi officials had blocked money transfers betweenHere's the full story.

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Yemen War News

Britain’s government broke the law by allowing arms exports to Saudi Arabia that might have been used in Yemen’s war, a court ruled on Thursday, after activists argued the weapons were likely operated in violation of human rights legislation. While the court’s decision does not mean Britain must immediately halt arms exports to Saudi Arabia, it does mean that there is a stay on the granting of new export licences to sell arms to the kingdom – Britain’s biggest weapons purchaser. The United Nations has described the conflict in Yemen, which has killed tens of thousands of people including thousands of civilians, as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. “The Court of Appeal has concluded that the process of decision-making by the government was wrong in law in one significant respect,” judge Terence Etherton said as he handed down the ruling. He added that the government made “no concluded assessments of whether the Saudi-led coalition had committed violations of international humanitarian law in the past, during the Yemen conflict.” A British government spokeswoman said: “This judgement is not about whether the decisions themselves were right or wrong, but whether the process in reaching those decisions was correct.” “We disagree with the judgement and will be seeking permission to appeal,” the spokeswoman said. Britain is the world’s sixth largest seller of arms, after the United States, Russia, France, Germany and China, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Saudi Arabia accounted for 43 percent of Britain’s global arms sales inHere's the full story.

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Jamal Khashoggi - Donald Trump - Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman

The Trump administration granted two authorizations to U.S. companies to share sensitive nuclear power information with Saudi Arabia shortly after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October, a U.S. senator who saw the approvals said on Tuesday. The timing of the approvals is likely to heap pressure on the administration of President Donald Trump from lawmakers who have become increasingly critical of U.S. support for Saudi Arabia since Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. Khashoggi, a native of Saudi Arabia, left in 2017 to became a resident of the United States where he published columns in the Washington Post critical of the kingdom’s leadership. Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, where Jamal Khashoggi lived, called the timing of the approvals “shocking” and said it adds to a “disturbing pattern of behavior” of the administration’s policy on Saudi Arabia. The Department of Energy granted the first part 810 authorization on Oct. 18, 16 days after Khashoggi was killed. The second occurred on Feb. 18. U.S. authorities have concluded that responsibility for Khashoggi’s death went to the highest levels of the Saudi government. Riyadh has denied that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved. The authorizations were among seven granted to U.S. companies by Trump’s administration since 2017, as Washington and Riyadh negotiate a potential wider agreement to help Saudi Arabia develop its first two nuclear power reactors. The Energy Department has kept information in the approvals to Saudi Arabia confidential, citing protection of businessHere's the full story.

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Iranian ship Saviz - iRAN

Saudi Arabia said it evacuated an Iranian crew member from a “hostile” ship off the coast of Yemen amid its war against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, the second-such aid it has offered in recent weeks amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The Saudi military flew rescue paramedics to the Saviz, an Iranian vessel some 95 nautical miles northwest of Yemen’s contested port city of Hodeida, spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki said. They then flew the injured Iranian to a military hospital in Jizan, Maliki said. Iran’s mission to the United Nations had made a request to aid the Iranian, Maliki said. The mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. “The leadership of the joint forces has dealt with the situation according to what is dictated by our Islamic religion and human values, despite the threat represented by this suspect vessel, and the hostile acts it carries out against coalition forces and the interests of the Yemeni people and its continued threats to maritime routes and global trade in the Red Sea,” Maliki said in a statement Tuesday. The statement did not elaborate. Saudi Arabia and Iran are chief Mideast rivals and the Saudis since 2017 have alleged the Saviz served as a maritime base and weapons transshipment point for Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. Briefing materials from the Saudi military earlier obtained by The Associated Press showed men on the vessel dressed in camouflaged military-style fatigues, as well as small boats capable of ferrying cargo toHere's the full story.

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Social Media in Africa

Bahrain, a U.S. ally that hosts the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has warned citizens and residents that following anti-government social media accounts could result in legal action, hardening a government campaign against critical online voices. The interior ministry sent text messages to Bahraini phones late last week warning that “following accounts which are biased or incite discord could expose you to legal liability”. The government had said in mid-May that “promoting” views on such accounts would result in legal measures being taken, but singling out the specific act of following critical accounts for legal action is a new development. Since a 2011 Shi’ite Muslim-led uprising in which dozens died and saw troops sent in from neighbouring ally Saudi Arabia, Sunni-ruled Bahrain has pursued a wide-ranging security crackdown. Hundreds have been imprisoned and stripped of their nationality, sometimes in mass trials, and the main opposition parties have been banned. Most opposition figures are now either imprisoned or have fled abroad. U.N. and rights groups have accused authorities of torture in detention. The latest crackdown on dissent has targeted Bahrainis, mostly abroad, running social media accounts. The push began in mid-May when the interior ministry said it was taking legal steps against people running accounts from “Iran, Qatar, Iraq and some European countries such as France, Germany and Australia”. It urged people to avoid dealing or interacting with such accounts and said legal measures would be taken against people “promoting their messages”. Then on Thursday, the ministry tweeted that following and circulating “inflammatory”Here's the full story.

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Yemen Houthis Drone - Drones

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis have stepped up missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia this week in a resurgence of tactics that had largely subsided since late last year amid United Nations-led peace efforts. The latest hostilities coincide with rising tensions between Iran and Gulf Arab states allied to the United States and come just as a sensitive, U.N.-sponsored peace deal is being carried out in Yemen’s main port of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions. The Houthis, who claimed responsibility for last week’s armed drone strikes on oil assets in Saudi Arabia, said on Tuesday that one of their drones hit an arms depot at the kingdom’s Najran airport near the Yemeni border, causing a fire. The Saudi-led military coalition said a civilian facility in Najran province was targeted with an explosive-laden drone. It said on Monday that Saudi defence forces intercepted Houthi ballistic missiles fired towards Mecca, Islam’s holiest site. The Houthis denied doing so. On Sunday, the Houthis said they would attack 300 vital military targets in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Saudi Arabia and the UAE head a Western-backed coalition of Sunni Muslim states that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government ousted from power in the capital Sanaa by the Houthis in late 2014. The movement has during the war repeatedly targeted Saudi cities and vital installations – mostly in border areas, but on several occasions the capital Riyadh as well. The Houthis pledged last November to stopHere's the full story.

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Saudi Arabia, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud - Saudi Arabia Headlines News Today

Saudi Arabia wants to avert war in the region but stands ready to respond with “all strength and determination” following last week’s attacks on Saudi oil assets, a senior official said on Sunday, adding that the ball was now in Iran’s court. Riyadh has accused Tehran of ordering Tuesday’s drone strikes on two oil pumping stations in the kingdom, claimed by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group. The attack came two days after four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. Iran has denied it was behind the attacks which come as Washington and the Islamic Republic spar over sanctions and the U.S. military presence in the region, raising concerns about a potential U.S.-Iran conflict. “The kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want a war in the region nor does it seek that,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference. “It will do what it can to prevent this war and at the same time it reaffirms that in the event the other side chooses war, the kingdom will respond with all force and determination, and it will defend itself and its interests.” Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Sunday invited Gulf and Arab leaders to convene emergency summits in Mecca on May 30 to discuss implications of the attacks. “The current critical circumstances entail a unified Arab and Gulf stance toward the besetting challenges and risks,” the UAE foreign ministry said in a statement. Saudi Arabia’s Sunni MuslimHere's the full story.

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Wahhabism - Wahhabi Islam

Sri Lankan authorities have arrested a Saudi-educated scholar for what they claim are links with Zahran Hashim, the suspected ringleader of the Easter Sunday bombings, throwing a spotlight on the rising influence of Salafi-Wahhabi Islam on the island’s Muslims.

Mohamed Aliyar, 60, is the founder of the Centre for Islamic Guidance, which boasts a mosque, a religious school and a library in Zahran’s hometown of Kattankudy, a Muslim-dominated city on Sri Lanka’s eastern shores.

“Information has been revealed that the suspect arrested had a close relationship with ... Zahran and had been operating financial transactions,” said a police statement late on Friday.

The statement said Aliyar was “involved” with training in the southern town of Hambantota for the group of suicide bombers who attacked hotels and churches on Easter, killing over 250 people.

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