Instead of threatening the power of the Saudi rulers, the Arab Spring has strengthened it. Coronation of the new King in Riyadh has ensured the renaissance of authoritarianism in the Middle East. The Saudi political influence strongly relies on their profits from obtaining natural resources, and it is a glaring weakness of their position.
Nevertheless, the Saudis eagerly participate in local military and political conflicts. For example, they are supporting Baghdad, sponsoring Egypt and Jordan, and fighting in Libya.
However, their efforts have not been that lucky so far, and the Arab world has not achieved stability. Kirkpatrick quotes an Arab diplomat who claimed that all political players of the Middle East had lost a part of their influence.
To improve the situation, Saudi Arabia tries to battle this uncertainty with promoting conservatism and authoritarianism (Kirkpatrick, “Saudis Expand Regional Power as Others Falter”).
Although it contradicts the democratic ideas of the Arab Spring, it seems that this is exactly what this region needs. Due to numerous problems caused by the desire of changes, the Saudi now try to reclaim the situation by rejecting any possible shifts.
The unlimited power of the royal family secures this approach. Today, there is no civil society or proper government in Saudi Arabia. The ruling family has all the power, and Kirkpatrick’s experts claim that these people tend to project the Saudi’s inner problems onto their neighbors, and this is what urges them to action.
It is believed that Saudi Arabia has sponsored Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who led the suppression of the Arab Spring in Egypt. Moreover, it continues to spend vast sums on supporting Sisi’s regime, although Egypt continues suffering from the economic recession. Apart from Egypt, the Saudi try to support Tunisia and the rebel forces in Syria. Overall, Saudi Arabia is the only powerful player in this region, and its vast resources ensure its leading position.
- Kirkpatrick, David D. “Saudis Expand Regional Power as Others Falter.” New York Times, 25 January 2015, www.nytimes.com/2015/01/26/world/middleeast/saudis-expand-regional-power-as-others-falter.html.