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Saudi Arabia’s diplomacy has costs

Saudi Arabia's diplomatic decisions since King Salman took over the rule of the kingdom in 2015 have caused much controversy, with the bombing of a school bus in Yemen and the row with Canada over a tweet as recent examples.
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Since the ascension to the throne of King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud in 2015 and the rise of his son Mohammed bin Salman first as defense minister and then as crown prince, the kingdom’s foreign policy has faced difficult choices in a fraught region. With rare exceptions the Saudis have lurched from one poor decision to the next; the Canada caper is the latest. The erratic diplomacy is hurting the kingdom.

The first tough decision of the new leadership is still their worst, to intervene in the Yemeni civil war. Worried that Iran was set to take over Yemen, the new, inexperienced Saudi leadership panicked. The Zaydi Shiite Houthis were on the doorstep of taking Aden, the last major city out of their control. Operation Decisive Storm turned into the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe of our times. The Saudi bombing of a school bus this week is symptomatic of the Saudi coalition’s difficulties in avoiding civilian casualties in launching airstrikes against targets in a poor, backward country.

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