November 14, 2017        Reading Time: 2 minutes

Your weekly digest of foreign policy commentary:

Reading Time: 2 min read

Marc Lynch explains recent political events in Saudi Arabia. Image credit – swisshippo / depositphotos



The Indo-Pacific, a Security Diamond, a 10-Year Quad?, Channel NewsAsia, by Rohan Mukherjee, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Yale-NUS College

“Without greater constructive leadership from Washington, the ‘free and open Indo Pacific’ is likely to remain a catchy slogan whose time has passed.”

  • Rohan Mukherjee explains the challenges facing the Quadrilateral, a regional security framework involving the US, Japan, India and Australia.
    • The Quadrilateral has a three-part vision for the Indo-Pacific region: (1) a rules-based order, (2) free trade and freedom of navigation, and (3) security for smaller states.
    • However, this vision is complicated by China’s rise; including its economic might, growing military capabilities and assertiveness. Members of the ‘Quad’ are more cautious about antagonising China. Japan and Australia rely on China for around 22% of their trade volumes, and India depends on China for border peace.
    • The US needs to resume a leadership role, so that a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’ remains possible.



What Saudi Arabia’s Purge Means for the Middle East, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, by Marc Lynch, Non Resident Senior Fellow of the Middle East Programme

“[T]he new developments should be understood in the context of interaction between Mohammed bin Salman’s short window for domestic power consolidation and Saudi Arabia’s unsettled regional position.”

  • Marc Lynch explains that the recent purge in Saudi Arabia should be understood in the context of Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s domestic political ambitions and foreign policy interventions.
    • Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, initiated a purge to eliminate corruption to rapidly consolidate power, as corruption is a popular concern.
    • Mohammed bin Salman’s foreign policy has been ambitious but less effective than domestic initiatives like the anti-corruption purge and permitting women to drive. His campaign against Qatar, for example, has paralysed the Gulf Cooperation Council and further polarised regional politics.
    • Recent foreign policy developments, including with regard to Yemen, have led to uncertainty about Saudi Arabia’s regional leadership role, even in partnership with the UAE.

Written by Myra Sivaloganathan and edited by Anishka De Zylva.

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