Saturday, November 9, 2013

"When it comes to democracy promotion, Riyadh ..." (well, not much here!)

"...When it comes to democracy promotion, Riyadh, in contrast, shares a perspective more akin to that of Russia and China: less concern about how a country governs itself and a greater focus on whether that regime is friendly and responsive to its interests. If a majoritarian democracy in Syria is more likely to produce a pro-Saudi government in Damascus, democracy will be supported. In contrast, as we have seen in Bahrain, if a pro-democracy movement threatens a pro-Saudi regime—and promises to replace it with a new government far less supportive of Saudi interests—then Riyadh will support authoritarian responses. But it is in the realm of energy that the ultimate U.S.-Saudi divergence will occur. If various North American energy projects—from shale oil to the Keystone XL pipeline—all come online in the next several years, not only will U.S. energy independence be strengthened, but new sources of supply will also lower global prices, helping to stimulate growth in the United States. This would be bad news, however, for a kingdom that increasingly relies on its energy wealth to provide generous social services as a way to retain the support of the population and to undercut the appeal of groups that seek to overthrow the monarchy.  ..."

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