November 4, 2013
RHETORIC BECOMES REALITY:
Why are the rulers of Saudi Arabia losing their cool? : Every time the Gulf States' rulers justify their support for violent rebels in Syria or the military regime in Egypt by appealing to the unalienable right of peoples to basic rights and representative governance, they legitimize the Arab Spring in the eyes of their own peoples, too. (AHMED E. SOUAIAIA, 4 November 2013, Open Democracy)
Posted by Orrin Judd at November 4, 2013 7:40 PMTogether, the Arab Spring and Wikileaks revelations shook the Saudi rulers' confidence in preserving power inside their country and maintaining influence outside of it. But three events have pushed the ruling family of Saudi Arabia to take off the mask of moderation and show its true face. First, the rulers failed to convince the US administration to save Mubarak and later support the military regime. Second, the ruling family failed to goad the US, Britain, and France into launching air strikes to bomb the Syrian military despite agreeing to pay for the cost. Third, Saudi rulers have demonstrated alarm at the slow and measured rapprochement between Iran and the US. This third event is especially important for Saudi rulers because their animosity towards Iran is not about nuclear disarmament but about history and ideology.Today, the ruling family governs Saudi Arabia the same way the Umayyads governed the Islamic world for nearly one hundred years during the seventh and eighth centuries. In 750 CE, the Abbasids launched a violent revolution that overthrew the Umayyads and killed every male of the ruling Umayyads (except one who escaped to Spain). The Saudis fear a repeat of history and they are committed to reducing Iran's status to a weak pariah state. That is a tall order given the resilience of governing institutions in Iran. [...]It is not in the interest of Saudi Arabia to oppose a political solution and bet on armed groups. There is some indication that the same groups on which the Kingdom relies are also ideologically and dogmatically opposed to the form of governance practiced in Saudi Arabia. It is only a matter of time before the Kingdom faces the threat of terrorism it exports to Syria, Iraq, Libya, and other countries around the world at home. This fact is underscored by the rise in the number of armed attacks on security installations, churches, and public installations in Egypt despite the Saudi rulers' support for the military regime in that country. In other words, the Kingdom may have control over some Salafi groups, but not all of them. Equally important, even those groups currently under the Kingdom's control will not remain there should circumstances change, because their alliance is one of convenience.Despite claims to the contrary, the Arab Spring was a true historical moment. It has profoundly changed the relationship between the masses and the rulers in the Arab world. The ruling family in Saudi Arabia thinks and hopes that the Arab Spring will not sprout in its land. It has. Trying to divert the course of the Arab Spring to other countries Saudi Arabia wishes to weaken (like Syria) or reverse course (as in Egypt) are short term attempts at a solution. In the end, every time the Gulf States' rulers justify their support for violent rebels in Syria or the military regime in Egypt by appealing to the unalienable right of peoples to basic rights and representative governance, they legitimize the Arab Spring in the eyes of their own peoples, too. When the ruling families excuse the use of crude violence to achieve the goals of the Arab Spring in Syria, they are in effect writing their own destiny: those who rule by the sword die by the sword. That too was the fate of the Umayyads.