For its entire history, the Saudi state has been wedded to an austere and stringent form of Islam known as Wahhabism, and has used its wealth and influence to disseminate it among Muslim communities the world over. In doing so, Riyadh did much to abet the rise of radical Islam in the 20th century. The kingdom began to shift gears in 2003, after it became a victim of jihadist terror. But greater changes have come since the reforms of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, which began in 2016. Ilan Berman writes:
Saudi Arabia Steps Away from, but Does Not Repudiate, Religious Extremism
The War in Yemen Isn’t about Local Grievances, but Iran’s Bid for Regional Dominance
In 2004, a group called Ansar Allah—also known as the Houthis, after the tribe that dominates the movement—launched an insurgency against the government of Yemen, and in 2014 seized the capital city of Sanaa. Since then, a bloody civil war has engulfed the country, with Iran backing the Houthis and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and (until recently) the U.S. backing their opponents.