How did the Arab Spring affect Saudi Arabia’s ruling dynasty?


2. Given the original text, summarize the source in four paragraphs or less. Don’t forget that with summaries, you want to place at least one in-text citation at the end of each paragraph. However, when a source does not have page numbers, as with the following article from The New York Times, you won’t be able to include an in-text citation. Therefore, be sure to make it clear that you are referencing the author’s ideas throughout your summary.
CAIRO The rulers of Saudi Arabia trembled when the Arab Spring revolts broke out four
years ago.
But far from undermining the Saudi dynasty, the ensuing chaos across the region appears instead
to have lifted the monarchy to unrivaled power and influence. As a new king assumes the throne
in Riyadh, the stability-first authoritarianism that the Saudis have long favored is resurgent from
Tunis to Cairo to Manama. The election-minded Islamists that the Saudis once feared are on the
run. Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the interior minister who spearheaded the push against them,
was rewarded last week with his elevation to deputy crown prince, the first in his generation in
the line of succession.
The catch, analysts and diplomats say, is that the ascendance of the Saudis is largely a byproduct
of the feebleness or near-collapse of so many of the states around them, including Iraq, Egypt,
Syria, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain and Tunisia. And the perseverance of the old order is largely
dependent on a steady flow of Saudi resources, so their influence may be costly.
The Saudis are propping up the Kingdom of Bahrain, and are fighting alongside the United
States to support the government in Baghdad. Billions of dollars from Saudi coffers are
sustaining friendly governments in Egypt and Jordan. Saudi-backed militias are fighting in
Libya, and Saudi-owned news media provide critical support for the monarchys favored factions
in Tunisia and elsewhere.
The kingdom can claim limited victories, including the military-installed government in Cairo
and the elected government in Tunis. But the same troubles facing its neighbors may also give
Saudi Arabias rulers reason to worry. Its efforts have not yielded any sign of stability in Syria,
Iraq or Libya. A Saudi-backed transition plan in neighboring Yemen has collapsed, leaving
rebels supported by Iran in charge of the capital.
A point of strength could be interpreted as a point of weakness, one senior Arab diplomat said,
speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid alienating the Saudis. If everybody around you is
going wrong, then your influence around your borders is decreased, the diplomat said, adding:
Frankly, everybodys influence in the Middle East has decreased. It is just a complete mess.
For an absolute monarchy tracing its dynastic roots back three hundred years, Saudi Arabias
taking a leading role in the struggle to reshape that mess is an unexpected outcome of the Arab
Spring, which once stirred hopes for the rule of law and modern democracy.
It is ironic or anachronistic if viewed from outside, said Gamal Abdel Gawad, a researcher at
the state-funded Al Ahram Center for Strategic and International Studies in Cairo, and especially
if one believes the region is in urgent need of democracy.
But the last four years have testified against that, he said, and if the region is most in need of
stability, effective governance and resources all of which Saudi Arabia has then it makes
sense that it would play a leadership role, whatever the characteristics of its political system.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died last week with a sense of vindication, analysts and
diplomats say. Robert W. Jordan, a former United States ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said that at
a social visit to the royal court a few years ago, he had thanked King Abdullah for not saying, I
told you so.
The king merely chuckled. Because the truth is he has said I told you so many times, and he
continued to tell current administration officials that we were really wrong, said Mr. Jordan,
who was appointed by President George W. Bush.
Among the kings complaints, Mr. Jordan said: the urgency of the Bush administrations
promotion of democracy, the vacuum left when the Americans withdrew from Iraq, the Obama
administrations embrace of the Arab Spring revolts, and particularly the failure to fulfill threats
of military action against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.
(Mr. Assad, a client of Iran, is one strongman the Saudis want to be rid of, but some analysts
argue that the United States is now following the broader logic of the Saudi preference for
stability over democracy by softening its demands for Mr. Assads exit.)
Continue reading the main story
The Saudis dont want to show weakness. They dont want to show vulnerability to the winds
of change in a way that might invite those changes, Mr. Jordan said, sympathizing somewhat
with the Saudi desire to manage the change rather than have it forced upon them.
What would Saudi Arabia look like without the royal family? It would look like Libya, or Syria
without Assad, Mr. Jordan said.
Like Libya under Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, Saudi Arabia is controlled by a ruling family
without the benefit of durable institutions in government or civil society. And like Syria, the
Saudis now led by King Salman have kept a tight lid on simmering sectarian tensions
between the kingdoms minority of Shiite Muslims and its Sunni rulers.
Indeed, some historians argue that Saudi Arabia often projects its domestic anxieties onto the
region. Worries about tensions with Shiites at home feed its rivalry with Shiite Iran, or fears
about a domestic challenge from political Islamists fuel the kingdoms hostility to the Muslim
Brotherhood abroad, said Toby Jones, a historian at Rutgers University who studies Saudi Arabia
The Saudis say, These are things that need to be mastered in the region, because they are also
things that need to be mastered inside the kingdom, Professor Jones said.
As the most populous Arab state, Egypt was long considered the de facto Arab leader, the
convener of the Arab League, overseer of the Israeli-Palestinian talks and main military
counterweight to Iranian power. But when the revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in
2011 plunged Egypt into turmoil, Saudi Arabia assumed its responsibilities as regional captain,
said Mr. Abdel Gawad of Egypts Al Ahram Center.
King Abdullah also let it be known behind the scenes that he disapproved of Mr. Mubaraks
ouster, castigating American officials for abandoning him. And the Saudi rulers quietly rued the
subsequent election of Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood.
When Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, then a general and a former military attach to Saudi Arabia, led a
military takeover in Cairo in the summer of 2013, Saudi Arabia became his most important
sponsor, quickly providing more than $12 billion in financial assistance.
Last week, Mr. Sisi, who is now president, decreed an unusual seven days of national mourning
for King Abdullah. That included canceling celebrations scheduled for Sunday to mark the fourth
anniversary of the Arab Spring a step activists here took as recognition of King Abdullahs
role in the revolts undoing.
Continue reading the main story
Nabil Fahmy, the foreign minister in Egypts transitional government after the takeover, said the
Saudis were only a complementary player to the domestic backlash against the Brotherhood.
The Saudis came out very quickly and said they supported us, sure, he said. But frankly this
was going to happen.
Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, is now committed to sustaining Mr. Sisis
government with billions of dollars in aid, probably for years to come. Egypt burned through
about $20 billion from Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies in just the first year after the
military takeover without much change to the governments balance sheet, and Egypts currency
is at a new low against the dollar.
Yes, it is a burden, undoubtedly, especially with the drop in the price of oil, said Mustafa
Alani, an analyst at the Gulf Research Center who is close to the Saudi government. But they
are ready to stand behind the Egyptian economy for quite a long time, because the strategic cost
of the failure would be even more of a burden if Egypt collapses.
In addition to Saudi Arabias role in Bahrain and Iraq, it is taking a role in hosting American
efforts to train rebels fighting Mr. Assads forces in Syria.
The Saudis Al Arabiya satellite network and other regional media outlets provide sympathetic
coverage of the law-and-order, anti-Brotherhood factions in every country in the region. And
Riyadh is providing indirect support for the anti-Islamist faction fighting for power in Libya,
through its client, Egypt, and its allies, the Emirates.
In Tunisia, the Saudis contributed financial aid to help stabilize the government and lent public
moral support to the anti-Islamist leaders, Mr. Alani said, helping the security-first political
faction remove the Islamist party from power through democratic elections.
Continue reading the main story
Tunisia did not need a lot, Mr. Alani said, but the Saudis have done what they needed to do.
Saudi Arabia has emerged as the regional leader because they were able to stand the storm, he
said. So now they feel that, yes, you survived, great, but you need to stabilize the environment
around you if you want to survive longer.
Still, Mr. Jones, the historian, said it was too soon to judge. They are backing the same cast of
characters that landed them in a vulnerable position in the first place, when the Arab Spring
shook the region in 2011, he said. This just turns back the clock.
It is the weakness of the existing order, he said, that has produced the effect of making the
Saudis look even more powerful, because they are the only ones left with enough power and
resources to prop it up.

Introduction: The Arab Spring revolts that broke out four years ago have brought about changes in the Middle East, and the Saudi dynasty is one of the beneficiaries. While the chaos that ensued destabilized many states in the region, Saudi Arabia emerged stronger and more influential. However, their ascendancy is only possible due to the weakness of their neighboring countries, and it’s expensive to maintain their dominance.

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Description: According to a recent article in The New York Times, the Arab Spring that rocked the Middle East four years ago resulted in the rise of authoritarianism, with Saudi Arabia being one of the primary beneficiaries. The instability has left many states vulnerable to the point that the stability-focused Saudi monarchy has been able to emerge as the dominant power. In fact, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who led the charge against Islamist groups, has since been promoted to deputy crown prince. However, the catch is that the monarchy’s power is reliant on a steady flow of resources, and while it can claim limited victories such as the military-installed government in Cairo and the elected government in Tunis, its efforts to stabilize the region have failed in Syria, Libya, and Iraq.

Saudi Arabia is sustaining friendly governments in Egypt and Jordan with billions of dollars from its coffers. It is fighting alongside the United States to support the government in Baghdad while propping up the Kingdom of Bahrain. Furthermore, Saudi-backed militias are fighting in Libya, and the country’s news media support favored factions in Tunisia and elsewhere. While the Saudi monarchy’s ascendancy is impressive, the weaknesses of neighboring countries could similarly be their undoing. One senior Arab diplomat warns that if everything is going wrong around you, then your influence will wane. In short, the Middle East is in chaos, and the influence of all Middle Eastern countries has decreased.

Objectives: To understand the impact of the Arab Spring on the Middle East, particularly on Saudi Arabia. To analyze the role of Saudi Arabia in maintaining stability in the region. To evaluate the potential risks and benefits of Saudi Arabia’s increasing influence in the region.

Learning Outcomes: Learners will be able to summarize the impact of the Arab Spring on the Middle East, with reference to Saudi Arabia. Learners will be able to describe the factors that have contributed to Saudi Arabia’s increasing influence in the region. Learners will be able to evaluate the potential risks and benefits of Saudi Arabia’s approach to maintaining stability in the region.

Saudi Arabia has emerged as the most powerful and influential country in the Middle East in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. While many neighboring countries have suffered from political turmoil and instability, Saudi Arabia has maintained a stable authoritarian regime. The interior minister Mohammed bin Nayef, who led the charge against the Islamists, has been appointed as the deputy crown prince. Saudi Arabia’s influence has been further strengthened by its financial support to countries such as Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia. However, its efforts to bring stability to Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen have not been successful. Saudi Arabia’s increasing influence may be seen as a point of strength, but it could also lead to potential risks and may be dependent on its resources.

(Source: The New York Times)

Solution 1:

Solution 1: The Saudi Arabian government could potentially begin strategic partnerships with other countries in the region to minimize the cost of its involvement. Instead of solely relying on its own financial resources, the kingdom could join with other countries like the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to formulate region-wide solutions to the chaos. Additionally, they could focus on building up and investing in those countries that are more stable such as Jordan and Egypt. Investing in education and infrastructure in these countries could build stronger regional partnerships and reduce Saudi Arabia’s need to intervene.

Solution 2: The Saudi Arabian government needs to focus on diversifying its economy away from oil. With declining oil prices and the continuous need to finance its regional involvement, the country needs to find new financial resources. Increasing the role of non-oil industries, such as tourism and technology, could help make Saudi Arabia more globally competitive. Another solution could be to increase investments in renewable energy, which would not only provide a new revenue stream for the country but reduce carbon emissions. Organic food production is also an up-and-coming industry that could help diversify the economy.

Summary: Saudi Arabia has become increasingly powerful and influential in the region due to the instability of many neighboring countries. Even so, the kingdom’s dominance is dependent on a steady flow of Saudi resources, which could become unsustainable in the future. The Saudis have been utilizing their wealth to support friendly governments and militias in the Middle East, but the results have been mixed. Despite strengthening their own regime, the surrounding turmoil has not ceased, and the Saudis could face challenges if the chaos continues. Moving forward, the kingdom could reduce their financial burden by partnering with neighboring countries, investing in more stable allies, and diversifying the economy away from oil and towards renewable energy and other industries.

Suggested Resources/Books:

1. “Saudi Arabia and the Arab Spring: Leadership, Mentality and Domestic and Regional Challenges” by Abdullah Al Shayji
2. “The Fall of the House of Saud” by Fouad Ajami
3. “The Kingdom: Arabia and the House of Saud” by Robert Lacey
4. “Saudi Arabia in Transition: Insights on Social, Political, Economic and Religious Change” edited by Bernard Haykel
5. “After the Arab Spring: How Islamists Hijacked the Middle East Revolts” by John R. Bradley

Similar Asked Questions:

1. What is the current relationship between Saudi Arabia and its neighboring countries?
2. How has the Arab Spring affected the political climate in the Middle East?
3. What are the internal struggles within Saudi Arabia’s government?
4. How has Saudi Arabia’s role in the Middle East shifted over time?
5. What are the economic and political factors driving Saudi Arabia’s influence in the region?


This article from The New York Times explores the shift in power dynamics in the Middle East following the Arab Spring revolts, which began four years ago. The article notes that while many rulers in the region were destabilized by the revolts, Saudi Arabia has actually become more powerful and influential. This stability-first authoritarianism aligns with the long-held beliefs of Saudi Arabia’s rulers, who have been successful in pushing back against election-minded Islamists. The article also notes, however, that the kingdom’s ascendance is largely a byproduct of the weakness or collapse of many states in the region. While Saudi Arabia may appear to be winning in the short term, the article suggests that the kingdom’s influence may ultimately be costly. The article concludes by noting that, despite their efforts, Saudi Arabia has not been able to bring stability to many of the countries in the region and that many of their neighbors’ troubles may also eventually impact Saudi Arabia. Overall, the article explores the complex and shifting power dynamics in the Middle East and the role that Saudi Arabia is currently playing in that process.

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