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How the War in Yemen Explains the Future of Saudi Arabia

• https://www.theatlantic.com, SIMON HENDERSON

Suffice it to say, this past weekend was a varied and busy one for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Between arresting a reported 11 cousins as part of an anti-corruption crackdown, apparently orchestrating the surprise resignation of the Lebanese prime minister, reading (likely with glee) President Donald Trump's tweet expressing hope that the national oil company, Aramco, would sell its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, MbS, as the Saudi heir apparent to his father King Salman is known, took a series of breathtaking steps towards consolidating his power. On top of that, the headline-grabbing detention of flamboyant billionaire tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal guaranteed maximum coverage, putting the kingdom at the center of the world for a few news cycles.

If you're searching for the real story here, look to Iran. On Saturday, Riyadh's international airport was targeted by what was almost certainly an Iranian modified missile from northern Yemen. This area is under the control of the Houthi rebels, who in 2015 forced President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to flee, sparking a civil war; since then, a brutal Saudi-led coalition has sought to restore Hadi to power. That campaign has, in turn, made it the target of 78 missile attacks from Yemen. Most have barely merited a news story. In March 2015, King Salman complained to visiting then-Secretary of State John Kerry that he feared Scud missile attacks on Mecca, which lies 350 miles north of the Yemeni border. Riyadh is more than 700 miles from Yemen. That's a big difference, and suggests significant, swift technical progress.

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