Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

The Prince and the Pouvoir: Saudi Arabia and Algeria facing an uncertain future

Commentary by Faisal Abulhassan – 13 December 2013

Saudi King Faisal and Algerian President Houari Boumédienne. Source : Algeria Philately

Saudi King Faisal and Algerian President Houari Boumédienne. Source : Algeria Philately

Over the years, much has been written about the weakness of the nation-state in the Arab world. Sectarian strife and uprisings across the Arab world have only highlighted these fragile governing structures. Some have argued that the monarchies of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have avoided being caught up in the turmoil due to the historic legitimizing role that monarchs play there. Other reasons, ignoring comparisons, were forwarded to explain the lack of large-scale revolutionary movements in the republics of Algeria, Iraq, Mauritania and the Sudan. Continue reading


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Filed under Algeria, Arab Spring, English, Saudi Arabia

Human Rights and Syria: An Original Position for the Gulf?

Commentary by Riccardo Dugulin – 26 March 2012

Source: informeuropa.it

On February 29, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted by an overwhelming majority a resolution condemning the flagrant violations of human rights in Syria. Regardless of the fact that the HRC cannot generate legally binding resolutions, the move of the council must be read as a major step forward in the international push to limit Bashar al-Assad’s ability to further wage war on his own population. Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been instrumental in drafting and garnering support for the resolution. The Syrian crisis represents the first event in Middle Eastern recent history in which local Arab powers, along with Turkey, openly take a position and lead the way in denouncing crimes committed by an Arab government against its own population through a UN resolution. Continue reading

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Filed under English, Foreign Policy & IR, Gulf states, Lebanon & Syria

The Saudi Arabian Porcupine and the Spring in the Desert

By Riccardo Dugulin – 10 December 2011

In the course of the first weeks of autumn, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia went through a number of events which largely altered its perception of the regional strategic balance.  On October 8th President Ali Abdallah Saleh stated once more he would leave power in ‘coming days’ amid further protests and violence in Yemen. On October 12, an alleged terrorist plot lead by Iranian secret agents was unfolded in Washington as a hit squad was preparing the assassination of Adel Al Jubeir, Saudi Ambassador to the US. On October 21st President Obama declared that all US troops will be leaving Iraq by January 2012, thus leaving the Iraqi armed forces as the only responsible for the sovereignty and security of their country. On October 22, Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud died. At the age of 80, he had been the longest serving minister of defense and Crown Prince since 2005. Continue reading

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Filed under Arab Spring, English, Gulf states, Iran, Saudi Arabia

A War for Nothing? The Gloomy Aftermath of America’s Withdrawal from Iraq

Commentary by Riccardo Dugulin – 5 November 2011

The start of the Iraq war in 2003, with all the protests that it sparked, the diplomatic ballet that it unleashed, and the dictator that it toppled, is an event that marked a generation. Chances are that the end of the US military mission in Mesopotamia, marking the last stop of Washington’s second longest armed engagement to date, will not stir as much attention. Victory during WWII had its imagery and so did the US’s defeat in Vietnam. Iraq will most probably fade away. Moqtada Al Sadr promised that there won’t be any major attack on US troops while they are leaving Iraq. Aside from the incidental threat posed by Al Qaeda in the region, US servicemen and servicewomen should not expect any widespread violence as they prepare their drawdown after more than eight years of engagement. Continue reading

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Filed under English, Foreign Policy & IR, Gulf states, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia

Taxation, Bahrain’s Alternative Path to Reform

Commentary by Hasan Alhasan – 1 November 2011

Bahrain's Crown Prince. Source: bloomberg.com

The decades long adage of “no representation without taxation” that seemed to underpin the way governments have interacted with their citizens in the Gulf region soon may no longer be valid in the tiny island kingdom of Bahrain. In August, the government announced it was studying the highly unpopular option of introducing a corporate tax on companies, a valued-added tax on products and a cut in public subsidizations of consumer goods to cover the growing budget deficit. The country’s Crown Prince Shaikh Salman Al-Khalifa – a modernizing figure within the country’s ruling family – is intent on decreasing Bahrain’s economic dependence on oil and thus on Saudi Arabia. It is estimated that in 2010 oil revenues coming in from the shared Saudi oil field of Abu Safah as subsidy represented up to 67% of Bahrain’s budget revenue. Continue reading


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“Democratization” in the Gulf? Saudi and Emirati Style

Commentary by Riccardo Dugulin – 8 October 2011

Semantics matters. International media and commentators have a negative propensity to easily depict the Gulf Monarchies, and especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as absolutist systems. Such a definition does not take into consideration the active political life and inter-familial distinct tendencies that shape the policy-making process of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. In Kuwait and Bahrain voters have concrete constitutional powers and the month of September witnessed elections in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. These facts should not be over interpreted, as none of the Gulf Monarchies may be coined as liberal democracies. Continue reading

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Interview: Michael Young on the “Arab Spring”

Michael Young

Michael Young is one of the leading political analysts in the Middle East and broader Arab world. He is the opinion editor of the The Daily Star (Lebanon) and the author of The Ghosts of Martyrs Square: An Eyewitness Account of Lebanon’s Life Struggle. He also tweets @BeirutCalling. In light of recent developments in the region, ArabsThink.com has had the opportunity to interview Michael Young about his take on events. The interview was conducted on the 9th of August 2011. Continue reading

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Filed under Arab Spring, Egypt, English, Foreign Policy & IR, Gulf states, Interview, Lebanon & Syria, Turkey