Archive for category Saudi Arabia
There is much speculation on a warming of relations, and even collaboration, between Saudi Arabia and Israel in the aftermath of the Iran nuclear deal. Both countries perceive a nuclear Iran to be a great threat. However, given its history and concern for the legitimacy of its rule, the Saudi royal family is more likely to draw closer to Iran than to Israel.
The Arab awakenings and assertive international role of Russia and China at the expense of the United States have created a new strategic situation for the rulers of Riyadh. Seen from Saudi Arabia, the US stood idly by at the ignominious toppling of its erstwhile allies, the dictators of Tunisia and Egypt. Its rival across the Gulf, Iran, is on its way to having a nuclear weapon and has attempted to assassinate its ambassador to Washington.
The smooth succession of royals is crucial to the stability of the Saudi oil state. Ever since King Faysal, the Saudi monarchy has alternated branches of the family on the throne in order to maintain a degree of balance between competing royal family factions. This principle is likely to hold true today too, as the kingdom navigates its way from the rule of King Abdullah and the now-deceased Crown Prince Sultan to the rule of Crown Prince and next king, Nayif. The process of balancing and satisfying royal factions depends on patience and conservatism within royal circles. It also requires quiet in the streets of Riyadh and Jedda – and thus far, there are no signs of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ spreading to Saudi Arabia.
On December 16, the Saudi city of Medina witnessed severe clashes between Sunnis and Shiites. The clashes occurred at the time of the annual Ashura gathering, when Shiites commemorate the martyrdom of Husayn, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Although the local press referred only to anonymous mobs, it was clear from international reporting and Saudi Shiite websites that this was a sectarian riot.