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Effects on Saudi Arabia due to the events of the winter of 2010-2011 - Research Paper Example

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SAUDI ARABIA AND THE ARAB SPRING The Arab uprisings of 2011, referred to in contemporary history as the Arab Spring, have targeted autocratic rulers across the Middle East and called for democratic and social reform. Egypt and Tunisia have seen a change of regime, while Libya has plunged into civil war and Syria has experienced violent reactions from its own government…
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Effects on Saudi Arabia due to the events of the winter of 2010-2011
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Download file to see previous pages Saudi allies have fallen out of power in recent months, including former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia responded quickly by distributing about $36 billion in state funds to youth throughout the country, hoping that money would satisfy any lurking desire to follow the examples of other Arab populations. The result, however, of the Arab uprisings has affected the population of Saudi Arabia, as demands for reform are being offered to the government while protests are emerging for different causes but with small turnouts. The list of demands includes lower taxes, better support for those unable to work, a solution to unemployment rates, higher minimum wages, and a cancellation of some restrictions on women (Bar’el). However, this is hardly radical, as this list calls for only a brief number of economic changes and very little social reform, even concerning women. What it lacks is any demand for governmental reform, regime change, civil liberties, or religious freedom. When compared to the revolutions of other Arab states, the issues in Saudi Arabia are of an entirely different nature. These demonstrations, however, have already been met with a violent response, urging them into the same categories of neighboring movements. Human Rights Watch claims that over 160 dissidents have been locked up since February. Protests were not limited to the usual Sunni Muslim citizens of Saudi Arabia, but also consisted of separate movements by Shia members of society who were speaking out against religious intolerance and the imprisonment of peaceful activists. As if reaffirming what the Shia Muslims were protesting, Saudi police made arrests in April that included a prominent intellectual leader of the Shia sect, Al-Saeed al-Majid. (HRW) The Saudi government has been forced into a position of vigilance, as it intends to swift put down any attempt to destabilize the country. Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh, a top Muslim authority with close ties to the Saudi royal family, decried the uprisings as “chaotic acts” that “have come from the enemies of Islam and those who serve them”. (Saudi) This statement may refer to Western powers, although Saudi Arabia usually depends on the American military for security on its borders and throughout the region—especially in the Gulf. The Gulf itself is in many ways entirely separate from the greater Arab world in that it tends to look inward rather than out. While Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt all have been concerned with their own neighbors as well as what is happening within their borders, Saudi Arabia looks across the Gulf to Iran, a rising Persian Shia power that is the antithesis of the Arab Sunni monarchy in the Arabian Peninsula. The Grand Mufti’s quote may indeed be referring to Iran and the Shia sect as the enemies of Islam, thus supporting Saudi crackdown on Shia protests. Saudi Arabia has taken specific action outside its borders, and has arguably put more focus into its foreign policy over its domestic policy in reaction to the regional uprisings. Saudi Arabia’s neighbor, Bahrain, is a Sunni monarchy as well, but rules over a Shia Muslim majority. In Bahrain, the government faced a grave threat as its citizens sought to uproot the monarchy, and the Saudi ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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