Saudi Arabia: Perception of the Kingdom within the GCC

 

I received a request from a reader wanting to know from a political standpoint how Saudi Arabia is viewed by other countries in the GCC region.  I believe it is fair to say that Saudi Arabia is highly respected and looked upon as a leader within the GCC and particularly in light of the Arab Spring.  Saudi Arabia continues to have strong established ties with Lebanon and the Hariri family.  In fact, Saudi Oger, owned by the Hariri family, is among the top companies in Saudi Arabia.

 

Ties with Syria are now politically stressed to say the least with King Abdullah coming outright and condemning the actions of Syrian President Bashir Assad.  The issues between Saudi Arabia and Syria are political; on an individual basis they are cordial.

 

Relations with Egypt are entering in a new dimension.  Saudi Arabia had strong ties with the ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.  In fact, the United States support of removing Mubarak from power created dissent and change between Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the United States.

 

Saudi Arabia keeps a watchful eye on Yemen and at its shared border.  This is a key transit point where militants attempt to leave Saudi Arabia to align themselves with Al Qaida of the Arabian Peninsula.  Additionally the same border point near Najran is where militants in turn try to enter Saudi Arabia towards wreaking havoc on oil facilities and actions against the Royal family.

 

Saudi Arabia will remain a close and staunch ally and protector of Bahrain.  Bahrain is a pivotal location where Saudi Arabia and Iran stand-off in a new era of Cold War.

 

Saudi Arabia is no longer a quiet sheep.  It is prepared to defend its boundaries and its style of government.  Externally the Kingdom is bolstering its resources with large procurements of military equipment and technology.  Internally King Abdullah is rapidly implementing initiatives to keep the Saudi citizens happy building opportunities for new jobs, increased minimum wages and affordable housing.  When or if necessary, religious leaders will convey messages to the masses aimed at maintaining stability.

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9 Responses

  1. really enjoyed this posting…as a new resident to the KSA – it was helpful in putting the different GCC relationships into perspective…THANKS

  2. It was KSA who started the GCC in the first place. I sort of see KSA is the EU (head) of GCC states.
    While the other GCC states are more liberial, it is Saudi who has,if not the most influence there in the GCC.

  3. Thanks AB! This has been very interesting to read. 🙂 What about Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the UAE and Qatar? How do the people from the various countries view each other?

  4. @Bob – I am glad you are enjoying AB AND your time in KSA!

    I like Jacey’s comment. In an aside my husband’s last position with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was with the Arab League Department. I can only imagine how busy he would have been these past six months! God rest his soul.

  5. Saudi is a staunch protector and ally of Bahrain’s ruling family. Period. They obviously aren’t above spilling a little fellow Arab blood in order to keep their chosen family in power in Bahrain. Such hypocrisy from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. Karma baby…Karma.

  6. “Saudi Arabia is no longer a quiet sheep” …. that may be true but definitely a sheep in wolf’s clothing :)-

    Saudi approach to the so-called “arab spring” has been bigoted and Shia-Centric, as in the case of atrocities committed by its troops against the shias in bahrain and in its own eastern province. Not much different than what Saddam did to its own shia citizens in Iraq.

    Not only in the GCC region, but Saudis are also following the same vigorous shia-centric approach in other muslim countries like pakistan, india, indonesia, malaysia, etc. It is financing sectarian terrorism and pitting sunni against shias: nothing but wahabbi domination throughout the ummah. A sheep in wolf’s clothing, indeed!

    In Salman Rushdie’s charming fable “Luka and the Fire of Life”, the eponymous hero enters a land known as the Respectorate of I. At the entrance, a Border Rat issues Luka and his friends this warning: “Here in the Respectorate we expect visitors to behave. We’re very thin-skinned. If you prick us, we bleed. And if we bleed, we make you bleed double: is that clear?”

    A little later, a number of the citizens of Respectorate hiss their national song; one verse goes like this:

    If I sssay upside down is the right way round,
    If I insissst that black is white,
    If I claim that a sssqueak is the sssweetest sound,
    Do you ressspect my Right?

    Say, do you Ressspect my Right?
    There’s no need to argue, no need to sussspect,
    No need to think when you have Ressspect …

    Somewhat in the same vein, Saudis take absurd positions like lecturing Syria on human rights and democracy, pitting wahabbi islam against shia islam, providing refuge to tyrants like Idi Amin, high ranking corrupt former pakistani ministers, former algerian prez, saleh of yemen and the list goes on.

    And then the House of Dons expect the rest of the world to respect these decisions???? And if the civilized kafirs laugh at such absurdities, saudis take umbrage, much like the Border Rat. All too often, House of Dons and its self-styled religious leaders/clerics on its payroll, revel in dragging the ummah further back in time.

  7. Interesting. I wonder how KSA is viewed by the average Arab and not just the official stances of the countries’ governments. Personally I don’t hear a whole lot of good about Saudis from other Arabs who have had experiences with them coming to their countries. And they don’t like the hypocrisy of KSA…probably along the lines of what Coolred referred. How often do I hear “Just because they say they are based on Islam doesn’t mean it’s so”?

  8. I think the average Arab does look at Saudi Arabia as the country that is going to pull the GCC back together.

    I know many are incensed by Saudi Arabia’s actions vis-a-vis Bahrain yet at the same time, the USA chose to turn a blind eye.

    Politics do make interesting bedfellows.

    When it comes to the Arab Spring, Islam is not a significant factor in my view.

  9. Salaam alaikhoum. Again I found this post interesting, but I was not sure of what to make about the last point about the advice that would be given out by the religious people when needed. I am aware that because of past links between the house of al-saud and the religious people, even today these people play a key role. But what is the “diplomatic ties” (for wan’t of a better expression!) like between the king and the Imams,etc. – especially if the king wants to push through some sort of reform that the scholars,etc. believe is wrong? Maasalaama, Amelia

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