Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest sovereign state in the Middle East and makes up the majority of the Arabian Peninsula. The country is ruled by the Al Saud royal family along with a coalition of ultraconservative Wahhabi religious elites. Together, they enforce Islamic law and define themselves as an Arab Islamic State. The kingdom is home to Islam's holiest cities, Mecca and Medina.

Saudi Arabia is bordered by the Red Sea, Jordan, Kuwait, and Iraq while surrounded to its east by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. It is the only country with a coastline on the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Mountains, arid deserts, and lowlands make up most of its terrain, and its largest city is the capital of Riyadh. The population of Saudi Arabia is more than 34 million people.

Approximately 8% of its total GDP is spent on the kingdom's military, which is ranked as the third largest army in the world, behind the United States and China. From 2015 to 2019, Saudi Arabia imported more firearms and military weaponry than any other country while possessing the highest quality military equipment in the Middle East, after Israel. Additionally, more than half of the weapons exports to the Middle East arrived in Saudi Arabia.

The current Saudi king, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have been criticized for human rights violations, participation in the Yemeni Civil War, and treatment of political opponents. Moreover, in 2018 the kingdom received international criticism after the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident journalist, and columnist for the Washington Post. He was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, to pick up visa papers. However, Khashoggi was strangled to death upon his arrival and dismembered by a hit team of 15 individuals closely associated with the crown prince. Leaders in the U.S. and abroad, such as President Joe Biden, condemned the assassination.