An overview of the tensions between Saudi Arabia and its neighbors

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, first lady Melania Trump and President Trump open the World Center for Countering Extremist Thought in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 21. (Saudi Press Agency via EPA)

Earlier this week, buried in all of the other news that’s a constant feature of the modern world, there was an unusual pronouncement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan said Monday that the Lebanese government would be “dealt with as a government declaring war” on his country — raising the specter of a new armed conflict in the already tense region. On Thursday, Saudi Arabia suggested that its citizens leave the country.

It’s the latest point of tension between Saudi Arabia and its neighbors, raising an important question: How serious is this tension?

To answer that question, we reached out to Tamara Wittes, senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings. Earlier this week, Wittes walked us through the web of international relationships surrounding the kingdom. We’ve broken it down by country.


This is the proper place to begin, it seems.

“Saudi Arabia’s greatest concern in the region that is the rise and expansion of

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