Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Anxiety in the House of Saud: "The US is irreplaceable when it comes to providing the kind of protection the Saudis seeks"

"... The Saudi regime's anxiety over Shia unrest has an external aspect as well: due to its obsessive fear of Iran -- against which it is waging a complex battle to shape the Middle East -- Riyadh regards its Shia minority as something of a fifth column. While this assessment is a gross oversimplification, and may even amount to a self-fulfilling prophecy, the more the rivalry with Iran heats up, the more the Saudi rulers cling to it and act accordingly, alienating the Shia and aggravating the problem. As the Saudi regime sees it, Iran's support for Bashar al-Assad's Alawite regime and Tehran's alliance with Nouri al-Maliki's Shia-dominated state in Iraq is not just about influence in the Arab world; it's also a high-stakes struggle involving stability at home and in the Kingdom's immediate neighborhood.
On top of all this, the Saudi rulers are losing confidence in the United States, their strategic guardian in the region. As they see it, the Obama administration has: 1) all but abandoned the anti-Assad opposition, unlike Saudi Arabia, which is funneling arms and money to Assad's foes; 2) failed to back Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak in his hour of need;.........
These too are oversimplifications -- the notion that the United States could have stopped the revolutionary waves of the Arab Spring had it wanted to is silly -- but that's beside the point: it's the Saudi government's view and helps explains its anxiety. Some top Saudi leaders -- including current intelligence chief and former ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar bin Sultan -- have even advocated reducing the Kingdom's dependence on the U.S. and seeking alternative alignments. Here's the problem: the United States is irreplaceable when it comes to providing the kind of protection the House of Saud seeks and has long depended on, which also means that Washington's capacity to create anxiety in Saudi ruling circles is unrivalled.
For Saudi Arabia, the old cliches appears to ring true: money can't buy everything, and in Riyadh's case, it certainly can't secure long-term happiness."

1 comment:

Bandolero said...

Carnegie has also some obvious criticism:


"... sectarianism should be regarded as a symptom of longstanding deficits in Gulf governance and the unequal distribution of political and economic capital. Specifically, the dearth of inclusive, participatory institutions; discrimination in key sectors like education, clerical establishments, and the security services; the absence of civil society; and uneven economic development are the real culprits of sectarianism. ..."