Bruce Riedel writes: The kingdom announced its new budget Dec. 28 with a record $87 billion deficit. Revenues are projected at $137 billion and spending at $224 billion.
Riyadh’s immediate priority is the war in Yemen. The war costs an estimated $200 million a day, or $6 billion a month. The Saudi coalition and the Houthi rebels both violated the last United Nations-sponsored cease-fire. The Saudis did gain control of the capital of Jawf province along the Saudi border during the supposed truce. The talks in Biel, Switzerland, did not produce a breakthrough, but are to resume Jan. 14.
The Houthis show no sign of giving up. Their leadership remains hard-line and defiant. The war appears to be a bloody stalemate that has catastrophic humanitarian costs for Yemenis. The outside world pays little if any attention. [Continue reading…]