High anxiety

Saudi Arabia’s ruling elders are anxious. Recent decisions in Riyadh, including dispatching a Saudi military contingent to help violently smash the pro-democracy protests in Bahrain, suggest that the kingdom’s elites are more than a little unsettled by the unraveling of the old order in the Middle East. They seem equally troubled by the prospect of ...

FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images
FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images
FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia's ruling elders are anxious. Recent decisions in Riyadh, including dispatching a Saudi military contingent to help violently smash the pro-democracy protests in Bahrain, suggest that the kingdom's elites are more than a little unsettled by the unraveling of the old order in the Middle East.

They seem equally troubled by the prospect of political unrest at home. So far, the kingdom has weathered the storm that has blown across the region. But it is clear that the ruling Al Saud are not entirely comfortable, even though many observers in the West keep uttering assurances that their regime is stable and mostly invulnerable to serious shocks. In reality, Riyadh is struggling to find ways to fend off the possibility of popular dissent -- while strengthening reactionary forces at home and exacerbating tensions in the region in the process.

Read more.

Saudi Arabia’s ruling elders are anxious. Recent decisions in Riyadh, including dispatching a Saudi military contingent to help violently smash the pro-democracy protests in Bahrain, suggest that the kingdom’s elites are more than a little unsettled by the unraveling of the old order in the Middle East.

They seem equally troubled by the prospect of political unrest at home. So far, the kingdom has weathered the storm that has blown across the region. But it is clear that the ruling Al Saud are not entirely comfortable, even though many observers in the West keep uttering assurances that their regime is stable and mostly invulnerable to serious shocks. In reality, Riyadh is struggling to find ways to fend off the possibility of popular dissent — while strengthening reactionary forces at home and exacerbating tensions in the region in the process.

Read more.

 

Toby C. Jones is assistant professor of history at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. He is author of the forthcoming Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia.

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