Saudi Arabia Faces a Changing Middle East
The calls for democracy during the “Arab Spring” presented the Saudi Arabian regime with serious challenges. Traditional allies such as the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt fell by the wayside leaving Riyadh practically alone as defender of an authoritarian government. The flames of protest grew closer as both Yemen and Bahrain experienced major unrest. An embryonic Saudi protest movement was snuffed out by a combination of threats and massive financial aid. The kingdom remains stable, since its rulers continue to maneuver skillfully between conservatives and reformers and oil revenue buys support. Still, Saudi Arabia’s rulers are watching matters closely and trying to manage slow change that does not undermine the regime.