Oil markets have witnessed in recent weeks the defiance of Riyadh and Moscow in consolidating their oil policies and the crisis created by international energy markets. Apart from the overt and covert behind-the-scene events, and the settlement of accounts the two sectors of producers inside and outside OPEC, had raised on their minds led to the unprecedented result that the United States, as the main sponsor and political, economic and military partner of the Al Saud court, openly put pressures on Riyadh to end to the oil price crisis in world markets.
The outbreak of the coronavirus and its effects in Saudi Arabia, which will have relatively different dimensions and consequences than other countries involved with this uninvited global guest, provided the ground for Saudi rulers to act opportunistically and under the pretext of the UN Secretary-General’s request to “halt all conflicts in the world” raise the issue of the ceasefire in Yemen in one of the most sensitive periods of the war and the siege of this country. Meanwhile, according to credible information, Houthi fighters are on a relatively smooth path to confronting the policies of the Saudi aggressors and the coalition in Yemen and inflict huge costs on them.
In this context, it is important to look at the developments in Saudi Arabia and especially the issues mentioned at the beginning of this article from a different perspective, and it is necessary to pay attention to those involved in the Islamic Arab field in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.
While most countries in the world are in a completely different situation, and perhaps more or less similar, are involved in the COVID-19 pandemic and the issue of information dissemination by some of these countries, and specifically Saudi Arabia is highly questioned by the media and regional and international public opinion. The New York Times quoted medical sources as saying that some 150 Saudi princes were infected with the coronavirus, including Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, the ruler of Riyadh and the nephew of King Salman, who is currently in the intensive care unit.
Also, a businessman from the Persian Gulf states who regularly travels to Saudi Arabia has stated that he is personally aware that one of the Saudi princesses is hospitalized and some other princes are ill. The source added that he had received many phone calls, all of which signalled the onset of the coronavirus.
A source close to the French newspaper Le Figaro, with links to Al Saud, said the coronavirus had infected more than 150 princes, all of whom were high-ranking royal court officials. This has terrified King Salman, his son and his close aides and made them make tough decisions.
Meanwhile, as no official figures have been released for the past few days on the outbreak of the coronavirus in Yemen, the Saudi-led military coalition issued a statement announcing a two-week ceasefire as of Thursday, April 9 aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s decision to accept a ceasefire in Yemen came in response to a message from the UN Secretary-General calling for an end to all conflict in the world over the outbreak of the coronavirus. And the Secretary-General subsequently issued a statement welcoming the idea of ceasefire by the aggressor military coalition in Yemen.
Although, it is crystal clear that Saudi Arabia and its allies in their aggression against Yemen have accepted a two-week ceasefire at the request of the UN Secretary-General, which could be extended if Houthi fighters follow suit, but Riyadh’s very acceptance of a ceasefire in the current context of the country’s internal developments is a significant element for those analysts and businessmen who are increasingly drawn to the unconventional events taking place in Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, Martin Griffith, the UN special envoy for Yemen, citing a decision by the Saudi-led coalition to implement the ceasefire in Yemen called on the Saudi-backed government and Houthi fighters to enter into negotiations with good intentions and without any preconditions and avoid any conflicts.
While many observers of regional developments believe that the Houthis by having the capital city and many of Yemen’s most populous areas under control and thanks to their recent advances should be considered the winners of the Yemeni war, the Riyadh rulers, more than five years after their fruitless aggression against Yemen, and under the pretext of the corona crisis and the request of the UN Secretary-General, are trying to find a way to cover up their military defeat and exit the crisis in a face-saving manner by withdrawing from a devastating conflict.
Of course, the day before the announcement of the Saudi ceasefire, the Houthis had released a detailed list of their proposals for peace in Yemen, the most important of which was the acceptance of their domination of Yemen by the Saudis. If this is accepted by Riyadh, which seems unlikely, it would be an explicit defeat for Saudi Arabia and its allies in Yemen over the past five years.
Another development that is important in the context of Saudi military action and the internal situation in Saudi Arabia is the announcement of the Canadian government’s agreement to sell the requested weapons by Saudis the supply of which had been suspended by Canada.
On Thursday (April 9th), the Canadian Foreign Ministry agreed to sell $14 billion worth of armoured vehicles to Riyadh. Canada suspended the sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia in 2018 due to Riyadh’s role in the assassination of Saudi opposition journalist Jamal Kashoggi, as well as Riyadh’s involvement in the Yemeni war.
Canadian Foreign Minister Philippe Champagne justified the “populist” cause of lifting the freeze on the sale of armoured vehicles manufactured by the Canadian branch of General Dynamics the “significant improvements” to the contract that would secure thousands of jobs at the U.S. firm’s Canadian subsidiary, where the vehicles are being made.
Champagne said that under the terms of the renegotiated agreement, Canada could delay or cancel permits without penalty if it discovered Saudi Arabia was not using the vehicles for their stated purpose. Ottawa would also boost its scrutiny of all proposed weapons sales, he added.
It should be noted that under Canadian law, a product cannot be exported if there is a serious risk of using it for implementation or facilitation in matters where there is a serious violation of international human rights law.
Following the Canadian government’s announcement of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, while previous crimes and accusations prompting the suspension were still in force, some Canadian political and media circles have made it clear that Canadian weapons are supplied to Saudi Arabia in return for closure of its oil valves.
It is clear that given the US origin of the weapons requested by Saudi Arabia, this could be a direct reference to Saudi Arabia’s departure from its recent illogical positions in OPEC and the reward for accepting US pressure on Riyadh.
Also in some of the marginal comments and sharp critical and political media opinions against the Canadian government on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and the mocking and sarcastic reminder to Westerners that “human rights are good, but the dollar is far better,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been thanked in a bitter tone and as a friend of the Saudi Wahhabis for selling weapons to Riyadh which are used to kill Yemeni civilians.
The paper concludes by reiterating that the recent developments in Saudi Arabia are very significant, as evidences show that despite all the extravagance of Saudi Arabia, the opening up of several areas of internal and external conflict and the infiltration of the coronavirus into the interior of the court, has taken a lot of energy from the regime, and given the regional and international conditions, the Al Saud court requires another way to secure future interactions and foreign security.