US chief diplomat Tillerson criticizes Saudi foreign policy

  • Saudi Arabia ends ban on cinemas
  • Houthi missile threat from Yemen persists
  • Riyadh announces largest budget in Saudi history for 2018

December 8

U.S. chief diplomat criticizes Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has criticized Riyadh’s position on key regional issues including Lebanon and Yemen. “With respect to Saudi Arabia’s engagement with Qatar, how they’re handling the Yemen war that they’re engaged in, the Lebanon situation, we would encourage them to be a bit more measured and a bit more thoughtful in those actions to, I think, fully consider the consequences,” he said.

December 10

Iran ready to restore ties with Saudi Arabia

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran was ready to restore relations with the Kingdom, if Riyadh stops bombing neighboring Yemen and severs unofficial relations with Israel. “We are not like America that has broken its promises so far in the nuclear deal. When we sign an agreement, we will remain loyal to it and keep our promises,” he said. Referring to Iran’s “long and old culture”, Rouhani asserted that “we are not the one who violates the nuclear agreement.”

December 11

Saudi Arabia ends ban on cinemas

Saudi officials announced that commercial movie theaters will open in Saudi Arabia, ending a 35-year ban on cinemas.

Analysis: The reintroduction of cinemas in Saudi Arabia is causing much excitement. U.S. movie chain AMC has announced plans to open dozens of theaters across the country in the next few years. The domestic film industry is also likely to contribute to movie production.

December 19

Saudi Arabia announces budget for 2018

Saudi officials at the al-Yamamah Palace approved the Kingdom’s $261 billion budget for 2018, the largest in its history. King Salman announced the budget in an address to the country, saying it would advance Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

December 20

Houthis fired 83 ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia: Arab coalition

Col. Turki bin Saleh al-Malki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led Arab military coalition in Yemen, said that Iran-allied Houthi rebels fired 83 ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia, the last one targeting Riyadh. He also stated that Yemen’s internationally-recognized government controlled roughly 85 percent of Yemeni territory.