The Kingdom and the Arab Uprisings. In a report earlier this year, veteran Middle East scholar Gregory Gause addressed the question of how, given the level of unrest in the region, Gulf Monarchies have survived the Arab Uprisings.
While Saudi Arabia shares some of the preconditions which led to unrest elsewhere in the Middle East—including high levels of state corruption and youth unemployment—the Saudi regime has remained firmly in control of the situation to date. In this light Gause rightly asks, is the Saudi monarch truly a King for all seasons? The regime has relied on two strategies in particular to maintain its grip on power.
The first involves the time honoured approach of carrot and stick: extensive state repression coupled with large subsidies and cash handouts to the population, totalling around $130 billion. A second, more subtle strategy involves increased state reliance on the religious establishment to foster a climate of obedience among Saudi citizens. This view ignores many important realities, however.
The Saudi Economy. Saudi Politics. Saudi Foreign Policy. Saudi Arabia in world politics. The Saudi succession: When kings and princes grow old. Saudi Arabia’s Old Regime Grows Older - Mai Yamani. Exit from comment view mode.
Click to hide this space LONDON – The contrast between the deaths, within two days of each other, of Libya’s Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdel Aziz is one of terminal buffoonery versus decadent gerontocracy. And their demise is likely to lead to very different outcomes: liberation for the Libyans and stagnation for the Saudis. But the death of Sultan, at 86, marks the beginning of a critical period of domestic and foreign uncertainty for the Kingdom. Meanwhile, the succession is still being argued. The Saudi regime’s stability now depends on its ability to maintain unity and establish clarity in its system of succession.
Sultan had already been dead – politically, that is – for the last three years; indeed, since June 2011, when he left for New York for medical treatment, young Saudis speculated on numerous Web sites that this was also literally the case. Kingdom of the terrified.
The Saudi trinity: oil, God and security. With the winds of the "Arab spring" still blowing across the region, internally Saudi Arabia seems to have put in place three safeguards against the turbulence.
Lavish economic handouts worth more than $70 billion were promised in February to absorb discontent. A package of economic, social, health and educational benefits was meant to absorb immediate frustration at lack of housing, jobs, health facilities, and welfare services.
Will Saudi Arabia Ever Change? by Hugh Eakin. On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines—and Future by Karen Elliott House Knopf, 308 pp., $28.95.
Debating gender in Saudi Arabia. Osama Bin Laden And The Saudi Muslim Brotherhood - By Stéphane Lacroix. In a recent video entitled "Days with the Imam" in which he recalls Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri declares that the founder of al Qaeda had been a "member of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arabian Peninsula" before he was evicted in the 1980s.
He was expelled because of his insistence on fighting alongside the mujahidin in Afghanistan while the Brotherhood allowed him to bring aid to Pakistan but didn't want him to go any further. Zawahiri's claims seem to have caused some embarrassment among the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), judging from how quick MB spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan was to refute them. One reason for the embarrassment may be that, with a Muslim Brotherhood president recently elected in Egypt, the organization is eager to reassure the West of its moderate Islamist orientation and is therefore afraid of anything associating it with al Qaeda or jihadism. Where Ghozlan has a point, however, is that the Saudi Muslim Brotherhood is not exactly a MB branch like all others.
To sort... Saudi Arabia - curators... Poverty in the Oil Kingdom: An Introduction. When Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz went to see one of Riyadh’s many poor neighborhoods in November 2002, pundits and lay people alike heralded the landmark visit as the beginning of the end of poverty in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia’s Decade of Denial - Mai Yamani. Exit from comment view mode.
Click to hide this space LONDON – Saudi Arabia may not have been directly implicated in the conspiracy that killed more than 3,000 people on September 11, 2001, but it has been consumed in a conspiracy of silence ever since. The Kingdom remains in sullen denial of the fact that the terrorists’ ideology – their inspiration to behave as they did – was created and nurtured within its borders. That stance appears to have been contagious, because the United States, too, has done everything possible to change the subject whenever the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks is raised.
The US has found it much safer, it seems, to focus on mortal threats that remain more notional than real – be it Saddam Hussein or Iran’s Shia mullahs.