Monday, 7 November 2011

Saudi policy unlikely to change following death of Prince Sultan

The death of Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz and the appointment of his brother Prince Nayef as crown prince of Saudi Arabia are unlikely to have much impact on Saudi policy towards Yemen. The days are long gone when Prince Sultan ran Saudi policy on Yemen. In recent years, the Yemeni file has been handled by Prince Nayef (and on a day-to-day basis by his son, Prince Muhammad) in his counter-terrorism role.

The Ministry of Defence was brought back into the centre of the issue as a result of the fighting in late 2009 and early 2010 between Saudi forces and Al-Huthi infiltrators. The Saudis did not perform well but have since spent a lot of money on strengthening their positions on the border and retaining their soldiers in counterinsurgency fighting.

The kingdom has not appointed a new minister of defence and it is not clear who will become responsible for controlling the inflow of subsidies to government, political and tribal figures. What is clear is that this money is continuing to flow, probably in order to prevent economic collapse and possibly to ensure that the key Yemeni players are to some extent dependent on Saudi largesse.

For more news and expert analysis about Yemen, please see Yemen Focus.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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