What does Saudi Arabia want for Yemen and Syria?


We ask Abdallah al-Mouallimi, Saudi ambassador to the UN, and debate the effectiveness of drone strikes on al-Shabab.

A year on from the start of the Saudi-led coalition’s air strikes in Yemen and five years since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, what is Saudi Arabia’s endgame?

In this week’s UpFront, Mehdi Hasan sits down with Abdallah al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United Nations, to discuss the country’s role in the region.

And in the Arena we debate the use of drones against al-Shabab in Somalia with Abukar Arman, the country’s former special envoy to the United States, and Ahmed Abdisalam Adan, Somalia’s former deputy prime minister.

Headliner: What is Saudi Arabia’s endgame in Yemen and Syria?

Nearly a year into the Saudi-led coalition’s air strikes in Yemen, what does the kingdom hope to gain?

In this week’s wide-ranging Headliner interview, Mehdi Hasan speaks to Abdallah al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UN, about the country’s involvement in Yemen and Syria, ISIL and the kingdom’s human rights record.

Mouallimi says beheadings in the country are “not barbaric” because “there are no beheadings without a full process of law behind them”.

The ambassador also argues that just because the kingdom supports an elected government in Syria, “doesn’t mean there have to be elections somewhere else”, including in Saudi Arabia.

“Elections are not a panacea for everything”, Mouallimi adds. “I would like to claim that if you went to Saudi Arabia, and if you conducted a survey in Saudi Arabia, in any way, official, formal, otherwise, you will find a high degree of support for the system of government in Saudi Arabia”.

Editor’s note: This interview was conducted before the latest announcement of the ceasefire agreement in Yemen.

Arena: Can drone strikes defeat al-Shabab?

The United States announced earlier this month that it had used both drones and manned aircraft strikes to kill at least 150 al-Shabab fighters in Somalia, a move the Pentagon says was necessary to stop an imminent attack on US and African Union forces in the country.

Critics of the US drone programme however, argue such strikes create more enemies than they kill. With the number of fighters joining al-Shabab having nearly doubled since 2013, how can the brutal group be defeated?

In this week’s Arena, Somalia’s former special envoy to the US Abukar Arman, who has called drone strikes a “priceless propaganda tool” for al-Shabab, is in debate with the country’s former deputy prime minister Ahmed Abdisalam Adan, who says the strikes are needed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *