The collapse of Saudi Arabia and the cataclysmic power shift in the Middle East.

Author:Abner, Elihugh M.
Position:PERSPECTIVES

This article points out the cataclysmic power shift that would take place in the event of Saudi Arabia's descent into political turmoil, and briefly covers some of the catalysts that could bring about such an event. Overall, the oppressive policies towards the Shia minority carried out by the Sunni-dominated Saudi monarchy are detrimental to the country's national security. The religious disparities in the country have given the monarchy's enemies--primarily Iran and Russia--a weakness to exploit. This article does not give evidence of any clandestine operations taking place within the Kingdom; however, it gives evidence that Iran and Russia have much to gain and virtually nothing to lose if the country was to spiral into violence like so many others in the region.

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CURRENT SITUATION: SAUDI ARABIA

The Saudi monarchy openly practices forms of religious intolerance towards both Shias and non-Muslims. In the Kingdom, all Saudi citizens are required to be Muslim, while non-citizens are permitted to practice any religion of their choosing but must do so privately. (1) In 2009, the Saudi Government banned the construction of any new Shia mosques, and does not allow Shia citizens the right to assembly in the form of protests. (2) While illegal, the number of Shia-driven protests has increased dramatically in the country's Eastern Province. (3) Despite their illegality, these Shia-led protests have grown in size, demonstrating the growing resentment of the Shia population towards the government's oppressive policies. (4) These protests began during the Arab Spring in which countries such as Libya, Egypt, and Syria--countries controlled by brutal dictatorships--began to experience increased protests which ultimately led to violent uprisings. Many of the practices used to control the populations of these countries, such as torture, public executions, and the suppression of basic human rights, are practiced, in secret if not openly, by the Kingdom itself.

Only 1015 percent of the Saudi population is Shia. While it is arguable that such a drastic disparity in size would make it nearly impossible for the Shia population to overthrow the Saudi government, the use of torture and public executions has been applied to all Saudi citizens who have proven themselves to be enemies of the Monarchy. The suppression of political liberties--affecting both Sunnis and Shias-has been allowed to continue for so long thanks in part to the nation's vast wealth. However, a hostile Shia uprising would most likely lead to an uprising on the part of the Sunni citizens who have suffered under the regime's...

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