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Saudi Arabia’s Security Alliances

Can Riyadh Dominate the Middle East?

Saudi King Salman at a metting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Riydah, October 2017. Reuters

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has sought to bolster its regional power by establishing a number of informal multilateral coalitions and alliances in which combinations of various Arab, Muslim, and other nations participate under its leadership. The first was the Arab Coalition in Yemen, launched in March 2015. This was followed in December 2015 by the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT). The most recent is the Anti-Qatar Coalition, established in June 2017 to force Saudi Arabia’s longtime rival in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to fall in line with its strategic worldview.

Last week, in cooperation with the Arab Coalition in Yemen and IMAFT, Bahrain hosted the first-ever Middle East Military Alliance and Coalition Conference. The conference, known as MEMAC, was intended to highlight the “critical role” of alliances in “defense and collective security in the region,” in the words of the event’s chairman. Scheduled speakers included current and former senior

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