‘Stick With Autocracy’

Bruce Riedel:

The Saudis value an alliance that dates back to 1945. But the alliance has always been based on shared threat assessments—not shared values.  Whether the threat was the Soviet Union, Saddam Hussein, Shia Iran or al Qaeda, America and Saudi Arabia were partners. But for Riyadh the Arab awakening posed a new threat, a mortal challenge to the world’s last absolute monarchy, that America has been too slow to understand. Come to your senses, America, and back the army, the king urges. Stick with autocracy.

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Quiet Transition

This piece by Bruce Riedel in al-Monitor reads an awful lot like a an exercise of what Brian Whitaker calls Riyadology. It is worth mentioning though that Riedel makes one small mistake about the elevation of Miteb bin Abdullah to become the first ever minister of the Saudi National Guard. Riedel says that by this appointment King Abdullah has placed his son in the cabinet. This is not accurate. Miteb has been a member in the cabinet since November 2010 when he became commander of SANG.

‘No Interest in Sharing Power’

Bruce Riedel says the US should be ready for the possibility of a revolution in Saudi Arabia:

Despite the stakes, the options are as unappealing as those President Carter faced in dealing with the end of the Pahlavi monarchy in Iran. And unlike the Shah who tried half-hearted reforms, the Saudi royal family has shown no interest in sharing power or in an elected legislature.

The United States has no serious options for effecting gradual reform in the Kingdom. The King fears, probably rightly, that power sharing is impossible in an absolutist state. In Bahrain, the Saudis showed clearly their view that opening the door to political pluralism will doom a monarchy.