Can a state be both the target of Islamist extremists and responsible for their actions? The attacks on July 4 in three Saudi Arabian cities, almost certainly perpetrated by adherents of Islamic State, have once again raised this question for drive-by analysts. They point out that the official interpretation of Islam in Saudi Arabia, which outsiders refer to as Wahhabism and Saudis refer to as Salafism, shares many elements with extremist ideology. Then they argue that Saudi efforts to proselytize Salafism played a role in the development of the global jihadist movement, and that the Saudis thus bear a special responsibility to rein in their support for Muslim institutions outside their borders and to moderate their practice of Islam at home. The implication is that if the Saudis would only change their behavior, the threat represented by the radicals would be greatly reduced.
Istanbul - Turkish officials leaked information about missing Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi to the media as part of a carefully calibrated bid to gain political leverage over Saudi Arabia and repair Turkey's relations with the United States, analysts said. Khashoggi, a veteran journalist and contributor to the Washington Post, disappeared more than a week ago following a visit to the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. Days later, in a series of explosive leaks to the media, anonymous Turkish officials told reporters they believed a team of 15 Saudi agents killed and dismembered Khashoggi - a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - in the consulate. The claims, for which Turkey has not offered any evidence, sparked an international uproar, with US President Donald Trump promising the kingdom "severe punishment" if the claims are true. Saudi Arabia has dismissed the allegations as "baseless" but has failed to produce proof that Khashoggi ever left the consulate.
Islamabad, Pakistan - Pakistan's parliament has expressed its "deep concern" over the blockade and severing of ties with Qatar by several Arab states, calling for the government to help mediate in the crisis between the Gulf state and its neighbours. "This House calls upon all countries to show restraint and resolve all differences through dialogue," read a resolution passed by the lower house of parliament on Thursday. The measure came as Pakistan's foreign ministry reiterated the country's "concern" at the escalating situation - but stopped short of endorsing one side or another. "Pakistan believes in unity among Muslim countries and has made consistent and serious efforts for its promotion," Nafees Zakaria, the Pakistani foreign office spokesperson, said on Thursday. "We are therefore concerned at the situation."
More than 2,000 Pakistani workers languishing in Saudi jails will be released, Pakistan's information minister announced on Monday during Saudi Arabian crown prince's high-profile visit to Islamabad. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had "ordered the immediate release of 2,107 Pakistani prisoners", after a request by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Fawad Chaudhry said in a post on Twitter. Prince Mohammed arrived in Pakistan on Sunday at the beginning of an Asian tour which will include China and is seen as an attempt by him to rebuild his reputation after the murder of Saudi critic and journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia on Sunday signed investment agreements with Pakistan worth $20bn. Saudi officials have yet to comment on the Pakistani announcement of a prisoner release.
All eyes will be on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman this week, as he makes his first visit to the United States after consolidating his influence in the Gulf kingdom. The Saudi leader, commonly referred to as MBS, will meet political and business leaders in Washington, New York, Silicon Valley and elsewhere, on a two-week tour across the country. He is expected to meet US President Donald Trump on Tuesday, and hold other meetings with business leaders in the tech industry, as the crown prince seeks US investments to bolster a plan to diversify the Saudi economy. But the main goal of the visit will be rehabilitating Saudi Arabia's image in the minds of the US public, said Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies. "Saudi Arabia knows that it has an image problem," Hashemi told Al Jazeera.