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Kingdom in crisis: Saudi Arabia, instability and the Arab Spring

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2012
JournalContemporary Security Policy
Journal number3
Volume33
Number of pages24
Pages530-553
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

While the revolutions of the 2011 Arab Spring deposed and replaced previously embedded autocratic regimes, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia remained largely trouble free. This article examines how the ruling Al Saud family was able to prevent the violent manifestation of tensions within Saudi Arabia. It is argued here that through the process of state-formation mechanisms were created to ensure the stability of the regime, a framework initially intended to protect the regime from coup d'etats. The long-term application of coup-proofing strategies cannot successfully respond to the challenges emanating from non-military sources. This analysis concludes that the Saudi monarchy has avoided short-term instability, but longer-term pressures facing the Al Saud family necessitate domestic reform. However, regional dynamics, driven by fears of an expansionist, nuclear Iran, a changing regional balance of power, and an apparent American exceptionalism for Saudi Arabia, make this reform unlikely.