Where is Saudi Arabia? How can we read the Kingdom’s foreign policy?

“The foreign policy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is based on geographical – historical – religious – economic – security – political everlasting principles and facts. It is shaped within major frameworks, among the most important of which are; good-neighbor policy, non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries … This policy is activated through several circles such as Gulf, Arab, Islamic, and international circles …,”as stated on the official website of the Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry.
However, observers have recently noticed a remarkable decline in the Saudi foreign action both regionally and internationally. On the regional level, Saudi Arabia’s political role has deteriorated in the region in the light of the following facts:
1. In Yemen, the Kingdom lost its old ally, Ali Abdullah Saleh,  the Houthis, and the Muslim Brotherhood of Yemen.

2. In Egypt, the Kingdom lost the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, and recently its most favored ally, Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi.

3. In Lebanon, the Kingdom lost its most important ally: Saad Al-Hariri.

4. In Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Palestine, the Kingdom has no political role. So, observers currently ask, where is Saudi Arabia?!!


Kingdom ‘ready’ to fight Daesh in Syria’s Raqqa

Recently, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has announced its willingness to take part in the anticipated military campaign to retake Daesh-held city of Raqqa, in Syria. Does this move a new turn in the Kingdom’s foreign policy? 
“Saudi Arabia is ready — if asked — to take part in a planned military operation to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from the Daesh terrorist group, a high-ranking Saudi military officer has said, according to Anadolu Agency.


Speaking to the Al-Arabiya television channel on Thursday evening, Brigadier-General Ahmed al-Asiri noted that, since September of 2014, Saudi Arabian warplanes had carried out more than 200 airstrikes against Daesh targets — he did not specify where — as part of a U.S.-led international coalition established to fight the terrorist group.

Al-Asiri went on to stress, however, that Saudi Arabia was not taking part in the ongoing military operation to retake Iraq’s northern city of Mosul.

On Oct. 17, the Iraqi army — backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes — launched a wide-ranging offensive to retake Mosul, Daesh’s last stronghold in northern Iraq.

Daesh captured Mosul — Iraq’s second largest city — in mid-2014 before overrunning additional territory in the country’s northern and western regions.

The Kingdom “cannot take part in operations alongside militias”, al-Asiri asserted, in reference to the Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi, an umbrella group of Shia militias drawn up in Iraq in 2014 with the express purpose of fighting Daesh.

The Hashd al-Shaabi (popular mobilization) has been accused by critics of committing violations against Sunni residents in areas it has “liberated” from Daesh.

Since 2014, the U.S. has led a 60-nation coalition that has carried out hundreds of airstrikes against Daesh positions in both Iraq and Syria.

This is probably the first time that Saudi Arabia announces its willingness to participate in a ground attack against Daesh outside its borders.