Good Example Of The Arab Spring Impact On Saudi Arabia Essay
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The process and reasons of the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring is the revolutionary wave of demonstrations, protests and revolutions in the Arab world which began January 14, 2011. There was a revolution in Iran, Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen Arab Republic; civil war in Libya, Algeria and Sudan; civil uprisings in Bahrain and Oman; and protests in Kuwait, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia and Western Sahara, as well as the rise to power of the Social Democrats in Morocco. During the protests general methods of civil resistance in the long campaign have been used: strikes, demonstrations, marches and rallies, as well as the Internet as a means of sharing information and campaigning. Many demonstrations were suppressed by violent reaction of the authorities and pro-government militias and counter-demonstrators. The main slogan of the demonstrators in the Arab world was "The people want the fall of the regime."
Under the influence of the 2008 financial crisis a rise in food prices as well as a drop in oil prices has begun. Thus the poor Arab countries could not long support themselves by expensive food, and the savings of the social sector led to the rapid devastation of the population. A huge gap between rich and poor together with the growing protests caused socialist revolutions in some countries. In other countries, the influence of totalitarianism and corruption caused the bourgeois-democratic revolutions. The exception was Iran, in which even more radically-minded government replaced the Islamist government.
How the Saudis faced the Arab Spring at home. The level of the protest movement in Saudi Arabia was minimal compared to other countries of the North Africa and the Middle East, if we consider that the Arab Spring has led to the fall of the regime or civil war in those countries. The active phase of the "Arab Spring" in Saudi format took place in several stages. The first stage is the protest movement. The second - a reaction of the ruling regime. The third - the violent suppression of protest movement by the Saudis in Bahrain and Yemen.
If the reason for the protests in Tunisia was the self-immolation of unemployed Mohammed Bouazizi (December 17, 2010, the city of Sidi Buazid) in Saudi Arabia it was the rains that caused flooding in late January, to which, as it turned out, was not ready infrastructure. It turned out to be a reason for the demonstration January 26, 2011 in the port city of Jeddah, which was brutally repressed, from 30 to 50 people were detained. The second demonstration, which took place on January 29, for the first time identified the requirement of political and economic reform in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia's transformation into a constitutional monarchy, curbing corruption, reducing unemployment, a fairer distribution of oil revenues. The third wave of protest was designated February 5 in the Saudi capital Riyadh, 40 women in front of the Interior Ministry demanded the release of prisoners arrested for no reason. Many of the prisoners (mostly Shia) are in the torture chambers since 1996. Thus, the first weeks of the protest movement in Saudi Arabia identified various aspects of social discontent: the legal, property, gender and confessional.
The next stage is connected with the return of 87-year-old Saudi monarch Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz after being treated in the United States. Immediately after returning (February 23), he has promised to allocate 27 billion dollars for solution of the socio-economic problems and to hold talks with King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in order to discuss the situation in the neighboring state. However, the Saudi opposition in the face of so-called Facebook group announced March 11 the Day of Wrath in Saudi Arabia. The core of the political demands of the Day of Wrath - demanding the resignation of the monarch, which was justified in the letter of 40 Saudi human rights activists and supported by demonstrators. March 3 demonstrations took place in the coastal cities of Abraham and Qatif (Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia), during which the requirements were re-declare the Shiite minority. They were perceived by the government particularly painful: the east of Saudi Arabia, populated by Shiites is the most oil-rich. March 5 of that year Saudi government announced a ban on processions, based on the fact that the demonstrations are contrary to Islamic law. However, a group of 40 women organized a march in the city of Dammam, located in the east of the country. March 10 Saudi police at first time opened fire on protesters in Qatif.
I think that the Arab world is changing and more and more Saudis would like to see these changes in their country. This is more likely because funding for the transformation is in the first place in Saudi Arabia, which is the undisputed economic leader of the Arab and Muslim world. Meanwhile, residents of the country who require reforms represent only a small part of the predominantly conservative population, whose rhythm and style of life, as well as national identity, founded in 1932, have been virtually unchanged for decades. For this time, the Sunni-Wahhabi clergy has securely blocked country from the changes.
The measures which were taken by Saudi government. However, increasing share of educated youth (Saudi Arabia spends more than a quarter of the state budget for the development of education,) requires more employment, a greater level of freedom, greater participation in the governance of the country. Today the country has about 700 thousand highly qualified professionals wishing to work in their specialty. The measures envisaged by the government, including a loan to buy property for honeymooners, extending its repayment, financial support for the unemployed, social assistance program in the form of bonus in the amount of 15 percent of wages, the decision to allocate a tenth of gross domestic product in the form of costs on benefits are effective, but short-lived, and they do not change the situation. They are not reforms, but an attempt of King Abdullah to buy the loyalty of different social groups. For Saudi Arabia, the owner of a quarter of all the world explored oil tanks, it is not difficult. In other words, the amounts allocated for the financing of social programs are perceived by the majority of Saudis as the generosity of the monarch.
The labor market in the country develops uneasy. 7 million foreigners are already working in this country. In order not to create unnecessary social tension, the Cabinet of Ministers of Saudi Arabia has decided to limit their acceptance. Today Saudi Arabia focuses on the construction of roads and railways, new ports, hospitals, power plants, petrochemical and water projects for the development of logistics. The projects on the use of natural gas, nuclear power and renewable energy sources are realized. The scale of such government programs is intended to include into the manufacturing process 500,000 new jobs each year. This will be, in the opinion of the Cabinet, the answer to the demands of the demonstrators. I consider that Saudi Arabia does not differ from other authoritarian regimes in the region but it has huge reserves of oil and virtually unlimited financial resources that hinders widespread protest movement.
The problem of Shia and the role of Iran in it. There is a deep disappointment in Saudi society. There are concerns about the weakness of the political system, corruption in the royal family, which lead to a desire to see fundamental changes. These concerns are heightened by the fact that the Saudi monarch is trying today to build a new relationship with religious institutions, including Islamists, to reduce the level of popular protest with help of the clergy and theologians. The decision to intervene in Bahrain directly related to anxiety by Saudi Arabia on the level and scale of the democratic potential. The Saudi monarch has clearly worried: if a popular uprising could be successful to the extent that would lead to a regime change in Bahrain, it might encourage the citizens of Saudi go the same way. But in Saudi Arabia there is a powerful factor in deterring - opposition to Shia and sectarianism. A political power of Shia, which was in Bahrain, was too obvious; therefore, Saudi Arabia took preventive intervention to eradicate the possibility of spread of Shiites. If the Saudis did not help Bahrain to prevent protests of Shiites, it would allow Iran to dominate in Bahrain. Saudi Arabia has a longtime enemy - Iran, which in recent years has consistently strengthened its position in the region. Despite the lack of high-level dialogue between the US and Iran, Tehran turns into an important partner for Washington. They are united by a common interest - to weaken the "Islamic state". Saudi Arabia also supports this objective, but it was from the very beginning on the side of the Syrian rebels seeking overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. Close contacts with Damascus and Tehran's good relations with the Shiite leadership in Iraq make Iran more valuable ally to the United States. Saudi Arabia, in which the conservative version of Sunni Islam is the official religion, is accused of that the kingdom as a minimum ideologically supports Sunni extremists and jihadism. Shiite Iran does not face such pretensions.
The actions of Saudi Arabia as a regional leader. Saudi Arabia is widely perceived as an organizer of the counter-revolution against the Arab spring protests. In fact, the central role in the Kingdom, as already it has been for a long time in its foreign and domestic policy is providing "stability." The Saudis do not want anti Saudi forces, including such enemies of the kingdom as Iran and Al-Qaeda, to gain influence in the Middle East. In neighboring Bahrain, the Saudis acted quickly to support the regime of the Sunni minority, faced with rising protests led by the Shiite majority of the island kingdom. Saudi troops entered Bahrain under the banners of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), and the Saudi rulers have given clear instructions on the use of harsh measures against the demonstrators, again arguing that the dirty hand of Iran is involved in this attempt to destroy the country. There is no doubt that the Saudis believe that controlled by the Shiites Bahrain would allow Iran to begin to dominate in the region. And in this case, the Kingdom has applied its policy of generosity through the GCC, promising to allocate $ 10 billion to Bahrain over the next decade. Other large-scale financial commitments were made to Oman and Jordan, two Saudi allies, which managed to silence the whispers of mass protests in the early stages. Saudi Arabia's ability to use the coercive power, perhaps, has no analogues in the region. If the United States, the chief advocate of democracy, do not quite like this, they are forced not to comment on the actions of Saudi Arabia: it is - one of the most important US allies in the Middle East. Therefore, the US has made it a priority to preserve the former authorities in Riyadh.
"Arab Spring" in the Saudi format is a combination of political demands of young professionals eager to realize themselves in legal and professional aspects, and the response of power in the form of financial transactions, which partially reduces the severity of the requirements and create the image of a compliant monarch. The monarch fully preserves the reins of government and growing flow of petrodollars. Meanwhile, the legal problems related to the reform of government, introduction of a multiparty system, the status of women and religious minorities remain unresolved.
Saudi Arabia that relies, on the one hand, on the support of the United States, on the other hand, powerful oil resources perceives itself as a regional leader. This makes it strong in the face of the nearest neighbors. In the interests of this country is not only to use oil revenues for political purposes but also to save in the region those regimes it deems appropriate to strengthen its own security. Punishing Bahraini freethinkers at its own discretion, it continues the same policy towards Yemen and is able to repeat the experience of using armored vehicles and other weapons against demonstrators, if it touches the nearest, and, perhaps, distant neighbors.
Despite their wealth and forethought Saudis remain vulnerable to disturbances occurring around them. At home, the hereditary principle of the Saudi family, fear of chaos, increased public spending, and numerous security forces have created calm. However, for this as a sacrifice were brought moderate political openness and diversification of the economy, which is still in the hands of the state. Big changes are occurring in the Middle East. And it is unclear whether the policy of stability will strengthen the Saudi regime at all costs.
Efraim Inbar. The Arab Spring, Democracy and Security: Domestic and International Ramifications. (2013)
Guido Steinberg. Leading the Counter-Revolution. Saudi Arabia and the Arab Spring. (2014)
René Rieger. “Saudi Arabia and the Arab Uprising: National, Regional and Global Responses”. (2013)
Toby Craig Jones. Saudi Arabia Versus the Arab Spring. (2011)
Astrid B. Boening. The Arab Spring: Re-Balancing the Greater Euro-Mediterranean? (2014)
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