Sanctions are a form of economic or diplomatic pressure imposed by one country or a group of countries against another country or entity. They are used to encourage a change in behavior or to punish actions that are deemed unacceptable by the international community. Saudi Arabia is one of the countries that has been subject to various types of sanctions over the years. In this article, we will provide an overview of the different types of sanctions and their impacts on the countries' economic, social and political landscapes that have been imposed on Saudi Arabia.
Impacts of Sanctions on Saudi Arabia
On 2 October 2018, Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist based in the US who was critical of Saudi Arabia's government, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and was subsequently murdered. There were conflicting reports over the circumstances of his death, the whereabouts of his remains, and who was responsible. Saudi officials claimed that Khashoggi was killed in a "rogue operation" by a team of agents who were sent to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia, while Turkish officials stated that the agents acted on orders from the highest levels of the Saudi government. The imposition of sanctions on Saudi Arabia has been a topic of significant debate and controversy in recent years. The country has faced a range of sanctions from various countries and international organizations, including the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union.
One of the most significant impacts of sanctions on Saudi Arabia has been on its economy. Economic sanctions, which involve restricting the flow of goods and services between countries, can have a severe impact on the Saudi economy by limiting its ability to import essential goods and services, such as food, medicine, and technology. This can lead to shortages, price increases, and a decline in living standards for Saudi citizens.
Moreover, the restriction of foreign investment resulting from economic sanctions can further hurt the economy, as it limits the country's ability to develop its infrastructure, create jobs, and diversify its economy away from oil.
Sanctions on the arms trade can also have significant consequences for the country's security and stability. As one of the largest importers of arms in the world, Saudi Arabia relies heavily on its ability to purchase weapons and defense systems from other countries. Arms embargoes can limit the country's ability to defend itself against external threats, such as Iran or terrorist organizations, and can lead to increased regional instability.
In addition, travel bans can limit Saudi Arabia's ability to participate in diplomatic activities or international events, which can impact the country's standing in the international community. Asset freezes can also have a significant impact on the targeted individuals or entities by limiting their ability to conduct business or access their assets.
However, it's important to note that the impact of sanctions on Saudi Arabia can also vary depending on the severity of the sanctions and how they are implemented. For instance, targeted sanctions that focus on specific individuals or entities rather than the broader economy can limit the collateral damage and prevent unintended consequences.
Overview of the Different Types of Sanctions
There are several types of sanctions that can be imposed on a country, depending on the situation and the objectives of the sanctioning countries. Some of the common types of sanctions include economic sanctions, arms embargoes, travel bans, and asset freezes.
These are the most common type of sanctions imposed on countries. They are designed to restrict or prohibit trade, investment, or financial transactions with the targeted country. The objective of economic sanctions is to put pressure on the targeted country by restricting its access to essential goods, services, or technology. In the case of Saudi Arabia, economic sanctions have been imposed by several countries in response to various issues, such as human rights abuses, terrorism, and international conflicts.
Arms embargoes are another type of sanction that is used to restrict or prohibit the export or import of weapons and military equipment to or from the targeted country. The objective of arms embargoes is to prevent the targeted country from acquiring weapons or military technology that could be used to threaten regional or international security. In the case of Saudi Arabia, arms embargoes have been imposed by some countries due to concerns over the country's involvement in the Yemen conflict and its alleged human rights abuses.
EU Case: The European Parliament has urged EU member states to impose an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and its involvement in the war in Yemen. The EU arms export report adopted on Thursday calls for all members of the bloc to follow the example of Germany, Finland, and Denmark, which have adopted restrictions on their arms exports to Saudi Arabia. The report highlights that arms exported to Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been used in Yemen, where 22 million people need humanitarian aid and protection. The EU lawmakers welcome the restrictive measures already imposed by several countries and urge the remaining EU countries to impose similar sanctions to prevent further civilian suffering in Yemen.
US Case: Bicameral legislation proposed by Senator Richard Blumenthal and Representative Ro Khanna proposes an immediate pause to all arms sales to Riyadh. The legislation calls for "a one-year halt to all direct commercial sales and foreign military sales and munitions." The officials point out that the vast majority of Saudi armaments are American-built. An embargo, they argue, would, therefore, hugely impact the Saudi military, and it would take years for Riyadh to reduce its reliance on U.S. military technology, parts and support. However, aside from F-15s, the Saudis also operate a sizable fleet of non-American Eurofighter Typhoons and older Panavia Tornados. Consequently, the imposition of an American arms embargo doesn't necessarily mean the entire Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) would quickly become grounded, although its capabilities would undoubtedly become markedly reduced. Riyadh would probably have alternatives other than Russia and China for fighters if the U.S. halted arms sales indefinitely. For example, France might welcome the prospect of Riyadh buying Dassault Rafales.
Travel bans are sanctions that restrict or prohibit the travel of individuals associated with the targeted country. Travel bans are often used as a punitive measure against individuals who are deemed to have violated international law or human rights. In the case of Saudi Arabia, travel bans have been imposed by some countries in response to the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which was allegedly carried out by Saudi agents.
Jamal Khashoggi Case: On 2 October 2018, Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist based in the US who was critical of Saudi Arabia's government, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and was subsequently murdered. There were conflicting reports over the circumstances of his death, the whereabouts of his remains, and who was responsible. Saudi officials claimed that Khashoggi was killed in a "rogue operation" by a team of agents who were sent to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia, while Turkish officials stated that the agents acted on orders from the highest levels of the Saudi government.
Asset freezes are sanctions that freeze the assets of individuals or entities associated with the targeted country. The objective of asset freezes is to prevent the targeted individuals or entities from accessing their assets, which could be used to finance activities that are deemed unacceptable by the international community. In the case of Saudi Arabia, asset freezes have been imposed by some countries in response to concerns over the country's alleged involvement in terrorism or human rights abuses.
Controversies Surrounding Sanctions Against Saudi Arabia
The issue of imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia is a complex and multifaceted one, with a wide range of interests and perspectives at play. One key point of contention is the effectiveness of sanctions as a foreign policy tool. While some argue that sanctions can have adverse effects, such as damaging the economy and citizens of targeted countries, without necessarily changing the behavior of its leaders, others maintain that they are necessary to deter or punish unacceptable behavior and promote international norms and values.
Critics of sanctions argue that they can be easily circumvented by countries with sufficient resources or alternate trading partners and that they can undermine diplomatic efforts to promote human rights or resolve conflicts. Moreover, there are concerns that sanctions can lead to unintended consequences or unintended harm, particularly if they are not carefully targeted or if they are applied too broadly.
On the other hand, proponents of sanctions point out that targeted sanctions, such as asset freezes or travel bans, can pressure individual leaders or entities to change their ways. They contend that broad-based sanctions can be effective in achieving broader policy goals, such as ending human rights abuses or promoting democratic reforms.
Ultimately, the decision to impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia or any other country is a complex one that requires careful consideration of a wide range of factors and perspectives. While there are valid arguments on both sides of the debate, it is important to weigh the potential benefits and risks of sanctions and to consider alternative approaches to achieving policy goals.