Saudi Arabia: Analysis of Politically Driven Events


It began in Tunisia with its leader bin Ali.  Bin Ali was ousted from power and where did he land?  He was offered amnesty in Saudi Arabia.  Not long after, demonstrations began to break out in Egypt which continues to intensify.  The citizens of Egypt want immediate change starting with the removal of its President, Hosni Mubarak.

In spite of meeting some of the requests of the anti-Mubarak protestors, such as replacing the Egyptian Cabinet and acknowledgement from Hosni Mubarak that he will not continue to lead Egypt at the end of his term, protests continue.  The groups of protestors are getting larger and it is not only protestors who are anti-Mubarak but pro-Mubarak supporters have rallied their own groups of protestors too.  In cases of such unrest there is now looting; looting of businesses, private homes of individuals and at places such as the Egyptian museum filled with priceless antiquities.  Prison breaks have also resulted in thousands of murders, thieves, rapists and terrorists loose and on the streets.  Where is this going to go?

The “Fall of Cairo” (or rather Mubarak) can easily have a domino effect throughout the region.  Ripples are already seen such as in Jordan where King Abdullah swore in a new Cabinet after protests in Amman.

Other concerns include the ability to maintain stability in the region.  The Egyptian government has been pivotal in Peace Talks between Israel and Palestine.  The Egyptian government has also acted as a liaison when necessary for discussions between Saudi Arabia and Israel.  With Mubarak and his previous regime toppled, what does this hold for the future?  Will other countries which are viewed as being stringently ruled begin to have their own set of protests?  How prepared is a place such as Saudi Arabia to withstand its own set of protestors if there continues to be a toppling domino effect in the region?

Saudi Arabia maintains and controls the world oil reserves.  It is also, through King Abdullah, the Guardian of the Two Holy Mosques.  At the same time it faces ultra conservative Muslims who would like to see Saudi Arabia isolate itself from the Western world.  Al Qaida shares many of the same desires as the ultra conservative Muslims.  Yet there are many among the rising generation of Saudis who wish to see more openness and lessening of Wahabi restrictions applied to its population.  These include the women who wish to drive and the Saudis (male and female) who are against the mahrem system and wish to see reforms.  It is a real conundrum and takes a fine-tuned balancing act on the part of King Abdullah to maintain a balance between the conservatives and the progressives.  Both groups are Saudi Muslims yet with opposing perspectives.

However King Abdullah is known for his strong control in the Saudi Arabia National Guard.  He has trust and confidence in the ability of the Saudi Arabia National Guard to protect the country, its people and resources in the event of any uprisings.  Unless cracks were to appear within the Saudi Arabia National Guard, I have confidence in Saudi Arabia and its government to overturn any attempts at unrest or instability.


40 Responses

  1. Govts ability to supress dissent is waning, as events are proving in the Middle East. The best course of action for most of these autocratic rulers is to actually listen to their people and institute reforms (sooner than later).

    Yemen’s Saleh has already been spooked into promising to retire within a couple of months and also promising not to have his son inherit his position. Unfortunately, his ppl aren’t buying it. Maybe too little too late?.

    A potential danger is having hardline theocratic groups get into power if people actually vote for who they want. I can see that happening in Saudi Arabia although I’m not sure how much worse it could get for ordinary people (it would definitely be worse for the West cause they’d lose their allies).

    However things turn out, I’m always on the side of people yearning to be free and part of the risk of determining their own fate is the risk of voting for groups we (westerners) might not be comfortable with.

  2. There are no ”pro-Mubaraq-protesters” That particular group is Mubaraks goon squad, comprised of police men and paid thugs.
    They are there to hurt wound and kill anti-Mubarak protester who were all peaceful. The current mayhem is because Mubarak send his goons to beat up, cut up, and kill Egyptians.
    The army is making very sure no protesters carry anything like arms, but they let the openly armed goon squads pass unchallenged.

    Also somebody must have positioned snipers because at intervals somebody gets shot.
    In the head.
    Sniper style.
    Those are not civilians doing the shooting those are trained killers. Mubaraks trained killers.
    Last death count I was aware of is 11.

    So Mubarak is sending his goons after ”his” own country men and people are surprised they don’t believe him?
    After 29 years of Martial law and empty promises?
    Please, get real!

  3. i listened to this since it started, and last week on the news, they said, ” there is fighting, looting, and people patrolling their neighborhoods with sticks and machetes. but the museums and antiquities are safe.” lol. i thought that was to much…please turn off the tv.

  4. Actually the protesters did catch a group of robbers intend on stealing from the Cairo museum. The robbers turned out to be policemen.
    The ”pro-mubarak-protesters” also carry police identification, or admit they were paid, I think about 10 dollars each, to attack the real protesters as they did.

  5. @gia

    Why turn off the tv? Al Jazeera English is doing a good job following the events in Egypt as other news sources. Lots of excellent online resources as well. I’d say turn off Fox News and assorted US channels. Their coverage is pretty shallow and so one sided.

    I believe events started to get violent once Mubarak’s thugs (or “pro Mubarak protesters”) started mixing it up with the anti-Mubarak guys and that just occured yesterday.

    Impressive how the anti-Mubarak protestors are so organized and fearless. They know if they back down now it will be difficult to gather momentum again should Mubarak renege on his promises so everybody knows this is it…it’s now or never.

    Othewise if they disband and go home, Mubarak’s security apparatus will spend the next year dragging people off to prison and torture and he will exert even more force on clamping down dissent.

  6. Great confession, American Bedu.
    Without the sword, there will be no House of Saud. The national guard consists of well-trained mercenaries including foreign nationals whose only task is to protect the royal family.

    “However King Abdullah is known for his strong control in the Saudi Arabia National Guard. He has trust and confidence in the ability of the Saudi Arabia National Guard to protect the country, its people and resources in the event of any uprisings. Unless cracks were to appear within the Saudi Arabia National Guard, I have confidence in Saudi Arabia and its government to overturn any attempts at unrest or instability.”

  7. i would like to know how 17,00 prisoners got free?

  8. oopps i meant…17,000.

  9. Prisoners cannot be freed unless orders came from the top. They’re freed and let loose on avg people (paid, v likely) resulting in clashes and violence and then Mubarak can say, “see? there is chaos without me”

  10. yep…sad situation going on.

  11. I’m wishing the best for those yearning for freedom!!

  12. I agree with Ali. The National Guard in Saudi is developed and nurtured by no other than King Abdullah for 50 years. The sole purpose is to protect the royal family and insure their control. Events had proven they are not capable of protecting the country against foreign enemies as in the case of Iraq after the Kuwait evasion. However, they are very effective at suppressing internal dissent as in their handling of the Shiiat protests of the early 80’s. I hope people remember that the next time the King of Interfaith Dialogue starts another marketing campaign.

    Long live Egypt and its brave people!!!

  13. In regards to Saudi Arabia and comments from Ali and MoQ, I am stating what I perceive as a reality vis-a-vis the Saudi Arabia National Guard.

    However playing devil’s advocate, wasn’t it also a prime US interest to come forward and assist during the Kuwaiti invasion? And the invasion of Kuwait also brought to light weaknesses and vulnerabilities which were quickly addressed.

  14. @Carol,

    A country being invaded by a foreign army is not the same as the people of a country wanting to rid themselves of their Dictator. The US should abandon the policies of supporting dictators against the interests of the people. That policy is not effective any more, even in the strictest strategic sense.

    Regarding your second question of weaknesses (I am assuming you are speaking about Saudi military), I do not think weaknesses and vulnerabilities were addressed. The Saudi military just went through a campaign in the South against the Yamani Hawthi rebels. Their performance was quite embarrassing considering the extreme superiority of fire power they had. A small rag tag army, lightly armed and with very little formal training gave them a run for their money for months.

  15. In addition to the points and considerations brought up already, I’d like to add a comparison between the national character of Saudis and the national character of Egyptians.

    Egyptians are known for engaging in a very public life-style. They are gregarious, extroverted, and inter-dependent upon one another for all manner of daily accomplishments.

    Saudis, being conservative, private, and practically fanatical in their avoidance of unnecessary public interaction, especially with strangers, would find a popular uprising distasteful.

    Perhaps these character tendencies result from a combination of history and population dynamics, but I do suspect they’d play a role in whether or not a certain population rises up en masse, no matter how dissatisfied the majority feels.

    One might charge that “national character” is a slippery concept and not relevant to popular uprisings.

    I disagree, with no qualifications other than a singular and not very important experience of personal observation. What do you think?

  16. @Marahm,

    Would u say there is a big difference in national character between Saudis and Yemenis?.

    The biggest difference that I see is one of economics with Yemen being one of the poorest Middle Eastern countries around, hence a big incentive to agitate.

  17. These are certainly very exciting times – for all of us, for Arabs and especially for Egyptians. I wish I could be more positive about this. My guess is that there is an 80% chance the brotherhood will gain control (and that will be very bad for all!). I was certain the old dictator would be gone by now, but I was wrong. I have seen many revolts and revolutions, but this one is the weirdest by far – but it can’t go on much longer (chaos, lack of food, etc.). In any case, I don’t think there is a snowball’s chance in hell of Egypt will become a democratic, free country – there are too many reasons why this can’t happen, including religion.

    Saudi Arabia is very different from other Middle Eastern, North African Arab states. Sure, there are about 8-10 dictators I would like to see gone (especially the clown in Libya), and I have no love for the House of Saud, but their situation is different. SA is the one country where religious and political leaders share a common interest, even if they don’t exactly love each other. If Egypt falls to the Brotherhood, the Saudi Royals will be in trouble. Anything could happen. Like I said, exciting times, these.

  18. Like many have said, Egypt does differ from Saudi Arabia on many levels, both culturally and economically. The Egyptians (majority) are living in poverty, with a high unemployment rate, and are lacking political, religious and human rights. It was only a matter of time that such an uprising would occur, because Mubarak was imposing far too many pressures in all aspects on the people.

    The last time I was in Egypt (Dec 2010) there were certainly a lot more police on the streets, I was even stopped by undercover police near the Egyptian Museum asking me for ID, and asking me where I’m from and why I am in Egypt. Egypt is in a very sad state. I’m hoping the future will be bright for Egypt and its people.

    I do not think any protesting or big events will occur in Saudi, at least not any time soon. The people are satisfied religiously and economically, at least the majority.

  19. The groups of protestors are getting larger and it is not only protestors who are anti-Mubarak but pro-Mubarak supporters have rallied their own groups of protestors too.

    As Aafke-Art said, I heard Mubarak paid 3000 jobless fellows to protest in favour of him. Mubarak all other similar Arab Leaders who suppress people’s voice and freedom should go. I love the courage of common people of Tunisia and Egypt who fight endlessly at the cost of blood to get freedom from corrupt leaders.

    I hope next target should be against Suadi King and Morocco King 🙂

  20. I agree that Saudi will not revolt in a similar way to Egypt. There will be small protests, which will be contained. The reason is Saudi does not have a nationalist movement. Saudi’s align their ideologies along specific lines:

    – Religious: There are the strict Sallafi’s and the Shiiat as the 2 major ones. The Shiiat obviously are against the system and may protest at one point. However their numbers are relatively small and they are isolated in the East region.
    – Liberal: This is a movement supported by the intellectuals, some business interests and the majority of the media. It has an opportunity to grow bigger with the more educated youth.
    – Tribal: Mostly aligned with the royal family due to years of monetary support for the Sheiks by the government.
    – Regional: many Saudi’s have regional identity. This is especially true in the West coast cities of Makkah, Jeddah and Mediah.

    As stated above, I do not see a mass movement against the government. However, the events in Egypt and other Arabic countries will impact the policies of the Saudi government. When the dust clears the Saudi government will make concessions either to the conservatives or liberals depending on how the mood of the regions turns. If the Islamist win elections in Egypt and across other Arabic countries, that will signal more conservatism in Saudi. If I had to bet, I think Egypt will not elect an Islamist government, but Islamist will win a large number of seats. Long term the Egyptian Army will play a similar role to the Turkish Army as protector of a constitution that is more secular than religious.

  21. Yemenis certainly live in depressed conditions. I remember when Saudi Arabia kicked them all out in the early nineties. That was awful.

    Getting back to the Egyptian situation, I really hope that Mubarak and all his cronies will depart en masse, and fast. Many Westerners are afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood coming into political power. They are afraid of terrorism, but they don’t even realize that America has been implicit in the oppression of the entire Arab Middle East with its fanatical support of Israel to the detriment of everyone else in the area.

    Why does anyone think Mubarak has been receiving 1.3B dollars every year? Has the Egyptian population seen any of it? It’s all about keeping Israel afloat. The only way to do that is to sit on the Arabs, and now we are seeing the ultimate result.

    The chickens come home to roost. That’s what the US administration is afraid of, and Allah knows best.

  22. I’ve all my family there including my dad. I have the Egyptian nationality and just can’t stop myself of being glued to Al-Jazeera. They have done an amazing job while the Western cover of the events are just close to zero.
    It’s hurtful to see your country falling apart, it’s scary to know nothing about what is going to happen, with what Mubarak is coming the next time.
    I don’t want to call him President. I don’t want to call him rais. I don’t want to call him anything except Hosny, his name. He doesn’t deserve any mark of respect you can’t usually have in Egypt.
    It’s not only about having during 30 years the same man. We had Nasser and Sadat. Total of the years under military power : 71 years. Kefaya ! Enough is enough. No one can eat the same meal during all these years.
    Nasser gave us the proud of being Arab, the proud of being Egyptian ; Sadat gave us a peace agreement with Israel ; what did Hosny give to us ? Not a thing. Well except capitalism which has never been under control. Which permitted to few people to have all the power (Gamal Mubarak, his son, and his people).
    The Egyptian system, the whole system is corrupt. When you build up a store or you make a deal, you have to give money to officials, to people with power…
    There is no “Pro-Mubarak” groups. There are people who want to keep the power, who don’t want to give it up : police and Mubarak thugs. Because in Egypt, when a policeman arrests you because , eg, of your driving you just have to pay him and he lets you go. The whole system is corrupt.
    If the US are so willing to support Mubarak, take him in your country.
    If KSA is so willing to support Mubarak, offer him a place to live.
    This guy is 82 years old, he has to retire. Because he made us sick.

  23. I was reading today that Mubarak and his immediate family have accumulated net worth estimated between 40-70 billion US dollars of which is distributed between the UK and Switzerland.

  24. Let all who breathe praise the Great Goddess from whom all life on Earth sprang.

    Brown, I have been glued to the computer, there are a lot of reports in the western media all over about Egypt, I have been glued to my computer too. BBC world has constant life coverage, another station has life images from the square. I do not understand how you can say there is no coverage? It’s the main news since days!

    I hope your family and friend are all well and safe.

    I am really impressed with the Egyptian people. If you take out the children, the old and sick, and those who have to stay at home for whatever reason, I think that every Egyptian who can make it is on that square, despite the attacks from Mubaraks goons.
    I am sure the Egyptian people will prevail!

  25. In France (where I live) there is no coverage I can assure you or a minimum coverage for this situation. Medias are been super busy lately with an other great idea of the President about police and justice. Basically we are glued to Al-Jazeera in English that does an amazing job and to our phones. If I was the only one complaining about the situation because I’ve family and close family involved, why not but every one complains..
    Thanks God every one is safe and well… I hope that Mubarak steps down. He decided to provoke a harsh situation and he is not even sure to be able to control it at the end… (e.g. the fact that a lot of prisoners are out including terrorists… Now, there is an attack in a gas pipeline…)

    If you look at this outrageous number of his worth (approximately 40/70 billion) and if you take in consideration that the US gave us 1.3 billion every year (I think it decreased this past decade), 1.3 billionX 30 = 39 billions of dollars…
    Like I said, I think the aids the American government decreased (but not sure), so… let’s make a bad joke : Mubarak’s worth : around 40 billion $, US aids based on 1.3 billion $ multiply by 30 years of Mubarak’s rule = 39 billion $…
    Really wonder if the US aids has ever reach its goal…

  26. Why do you think the Saudi Arabian National Guard is spending $30 Billion on hundreds of new attack helicopters over the next 15 years?

  27. Carol,

    Do you have any any idea the accumulated wealth generated by the 10,000 or so members of the royal family of Saudi Arabia? Any ideas on where that money is at? USA, European banks? ALL such dictators and tyrants put away loads of their people’s money. First, because they are greedy theives, second because they fear that the people might one day rise up and they’ll have to cut and run and live incredible lives abroad based on the money they’ve stolen from their countries and it’s citizens.

    Considering Prince Bandar made some 1 BILLION dollars on the al Yamamah scandal alone, I would estimate the amount of looted Saudi money sitting in foreign banks would be in the hundreds of billions, dwarfing anything Mubarak supporters have ever dreamed of!

  28. Why do my posts here never show up anymore, or show up and then quickly disappear? Hum……seems some dont have to go to Egypt to be censored!

  29. Of course Mubarak paid the tugs; but Egypt is also a typical client state. Millions of people are woven into
    a network, where they depend on gifts, pay from corruption. They have a lot to lose, and may be unsure of the gain.
    But as one expert said, the arab world will have 100 million unemployed men in 2020, if change and development doesn’t take off with chinese speed.
    And who want 100 million unemployed men ?

  30. Who, exactly, has a lot to lose? Surely not the populace. As for gain, how about opportunity? How about a renewed energy for real reform, the input of thousands of bright minds which have been actively suppressed for years and years? How about the possibility that those projected 100 million unemployed could instead become 100million active, productive citizens?

  31. has an excellent blog post on how she sees this revolution affecting Saudi people!

  32. Looks like one slipped through when I used a different e-mail address……….although NOT the long comment I made wondering about the HUNDREDS of millions of dollars of money abroad that the Saudi royal family has looted and stolen from the Saudi people.

    Mubarak, when it comes to money, is playing on kindergarten terms when compared to the Saudis who have raped the Saudi country and it’s resources for DECADES.

  33. Excellent post!

    While I share everyone’s exuberance and good thoughts about the Egyptian people. I am frightened, though, about the Muslim Brotherhood taking over in the aftermath. From what I know, Wahabi Muslim Brotherhood = Al Quaida = Taliban.

    Just some food for thought …..

  34. @Harry,

    I heard in BBC. Fight in Egypt is for the right for Egyptian but not to bring a hatred. In the past 2 week since the start of protest, there is no burning of Israel or US flags. Its completely for the rights of people.

  35. “Wahabi Muslim Brotherhood” does not exist. They are separate entities. Though a thread of consistency runs through the history of the mentioned groups, it is not the consistency that should curdle the sensibilities of Westerners.

    The West needs to learn that the Middle East will continue to exhibit a predominately Muslim character. The Islamic model has plenty of room for a democracy of sorts, but it whatever shakes out in Egypt will not duplicate American democracy, nor should it.

    As soon as the West stops stuffing its agenda down the throats of the Arabs, we’ll see an improvement in all kinds of international relationships. I’m no historian nor politician, but some things have become obvious, even to me.

  36. abu sinan
    you think a bedu removed it?

  37. I hope the egyptian people suceed in getting what they want, i don’t understand all this stuff about muslim brotehrhood, so what if it’s radical islam, so what if it’s an oppresive regime, if that’s what the people want so be it. Guess they’ve done it once they can always do it again – uprising again whomever they don’t like. I don’t understand our need to dictate what is right for them, so what if they favor talibans, hey it’s their life, their country . We can only take action if it reaches our shores, and maybe it will, but then we can act not now. let the egyptians get what they want.

  38. This reminds me of similar (US) reactions when Arafat had first come to power…

  39. LONG LIVE EGYPT!!!!!

    The tyrant is no longer in control. Egypt will belong to its people soon….

  40. I was watching episodes of “Making Fiends” and came across this one that had an interesting take on dictatorship governments and presidential elections:

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