happening in saudi arabia
June 16, 2019

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was the subject of a wide-ranging interview published in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, touching upon tensions with Iran, Saudi Arabia's economic future, and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Here are three key moments.

Blame game — The crown prince joined the U.S. in blaming Iran for recent attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, which Tehran has vehemently denied. He also said that, while Riyadh does not seek war with Iran, he will not hesitate to "deal with any threat" to Saudi Arabia's sovereignty.

Veiled attack — Prince Mohammed also warned against "exploiting" the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi for political gains in what Al Jazeera writes was likely a veiled attack against Turkey, where Khashoggi was killed (those accused of the crime are Saudi government officials). However, the crown prince added that he wants to maintain strong relations with Ankara.

Aramco is good to go — The prince said that Aramco, Saudi Arabia's national petroleum and gas company, is set to go through with an initial public offering as soon as next year, though it remains unclear where the stock will trade. The prince projected the companies' value at about $2 trillion. The decision is reportedly part of Saudi Arabia's plan to diversify its economy and boost employment in new industries. Tim O'Donnell

July 4, 2016

Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry says four security officers were killed and five others wounded Monday night after a man detonated a suicide vest in a parking lot outside of the Prophet's Mosque in Medina.

The mosque is one of the holiest sites in Islam, and the burial place of the Prophet Muhammad. Thousands of worshipers were at the mosque for sunset prayers when the bomb went off in a parking lot outside of the complex; the state-run al-Ekhbariya news channel reports the suicide bomber detonated his vest after security officers raised suspicions about him.

Iyad Madani, the secretary general of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said the attacks are an attempt to destabilize Saudi Arabia, adding that the kingdom is "the cornerstone of security and stability in the region and the Islamic world." No group has claimed responsibility for the attack or other suicide bombings in Jeddah and Qatif on Monday. Catherine Garcia

July 4, 2016

A suicide bomber blew himself up about 33 feet from the wall of the U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, early Monday, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.

The bomber was the only person killed in the blast, although witnesses said two police officers appeared to have been injured. Officers became suspicious of the man as he roamed a parking lot, and he detonated the explosives when officers approached him. Al Qaeda-linked gunmen attacked the U.S. consulate in Jeddah in 2004, killing five employees. Harold Maass

January 12, 2016

The sister of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has reportedly been arrested for posting a photo of her former husband on Twitter and asking for his release from prison.

Raif Badawi's wife, Ensaf Haidar, tweeted that his sister, Samar Badawi, is believed to have been arrested Tuesday. After hours of questioning, she was moved to the Dharhan central prison, where her brother is being held, The Guardian reports. Samar Badawi's former husband, Waleed Abu al-Khair, is a human rights lawyer, and is serving a 15-year sentence, partly for defending Raif Badawi. For her work to promote women's equality in Saudi Arabia, Samar Badawi received the 2012 International Women of Courage award.

After being found guilty of insulting Islam and criticizing the regime, Raif Badawi was sentenced in 2014 to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes; last year, he received 50 lashes. His sentence has been condemned by leaders around the world, and his wife left Saudi Arabia for Canada, where she now lives with their three children and campaigns for his release. In a statement, Amnesty International called the detainment of Samar Badawi "the latest example of Saudi Arabia's utter contempt for its human rights obligations and provides further damning proof of the authorities' intent to suppress all signs of peaceful dissent." Catherine Garcia

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