Saudis try to shield fragile Arab thrones

The New York Times reports:

Saudi Arabia is flexing its financial and diplomatic might across the Middle East in a wide-ranging bid to contain the tide of change, shield fellow monarchs from popular discontent and avert the overthrow of any more leaders struggling to calm turbulent republics.

From Egypt, where the Saudis dispensed $4 billion in aid last week to shore up the ruling military council, to Yemen, where it is trying to ease out the president, to the kingdoms of Jordan and Morocco, which it has invited to join a union of Gulf monarchies, Saudi Arabia is scrambling to forestall more radical change and block Iran’s influence.

The kingdom is aggressively emphasizing the relative stability of monarchies, part of an effort to avert any dramatic shift from the authoritarian model, which would generate uncomfortable questions about the glacial pace of political and social change at home.

Saudi Arabia’s proposal to include Jordan and Morocco in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council — which authorized the Saudis to send in troops to quell a largely Shiite Muslim rebellion in the Sunni Muslim monarchy of Bahrain — is intended to create a kind of “Club of Kings.” The idea is to signal Shiite Iran that the Sunni Arab monarchs will defend their interests, analysts said.

“We’re sending a message that monarchies are not where this is happening,” Prince Waleed bin Talal al-Saud, a businessman and high-profile member of the habitually reticent royal family, told The New York Times’s editorial board, referring to the unrest. “We are not trying to get our way by force, but to safeguard our interests.”

The range of the Saudi intervention is extraordinary as the unrest pushes Riyadh’s hand to forge what some commentators, in Egypt and elsewhere, brand a “counterrevolution.” Some Saudi and foreign analysts find the term too sweeping for the steps the Saudis have actually taken, though it appears unparalleled in the region and beyond as the kingdom reaches out to ally with non-Arab Muslim states as well.

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2 thoughts on “Saudis try to shield fragile Arab thrones

  1. AMeshiea

    The Saudi element is the biggest stumbling block to the awakening. They have effectively blackmailed the US into staying out of Guf politics and they are seeking to subvert the Egyptian revolution. But they are vulnerable at home too. They will throw money at the problem as much as they ant but that will only go so far .Libya is case and point. Without liberalization, without liberty, money means even less.

    It may take a little longer butthey will not be able to resist a tsunami with an expensive dyke.

  2. Norman

    They go kicking & screaming, while the winds of change blow all around them. One would think that the Saudi’s would be less effected because they have modernized. But then, if you educate the population, yet cling to the old ways, then you find that your days are numbered.

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