How close is Saudi from collapse?

I was reading this article (yes, I know its on Fox News :)) and wondering how close to collapse the house of Saud is…or if the article is an exaggeration.

So, for debate: How close is the Royal Family from disaster? Is there anything they can do to fix their myriad problems (assuming they are close to disaster at all)? How close is SA from collapse, or are they even close at all? What are the ramifications of or possibility of a coup against the Royal Family? What, if anything, can/should America do? What should/would/could Europe and the EU do?


This is a thread that despite it being an absolutely vital question, will get few responses because there are quik-n-easy ideological answers.

Who the hell knows. I find it unlikely that it’ll be resolved without bloodshed.

Depends on who’s doin’ the coupin’.

Both the US and the EU are primarily concerned about keeping the light sweet crude flowing. A Wahabbist coup threatens that. A military or other coup might be the precursor to a more stable long-term regime than the house of Saud.

paging Paul in Saudi

Obviously, that should be “there are no quik-n-easy ideological answers”

Well, I get paid at the end of the month, so I hope they can hold out until then.

In any case, there is no real sign on the ground of the collapse of the al Sauds. Things look good here today. We can presume nothing remarkable will happen in the very short term.

Next you have to presume any coup would sweep in from the right. The religious right is the only sector with any potential of power-grab. (Well that and maybe some faction of the Royals themselves, but that is sort of intramural.)

The idea that Jeffersonian Democrat would come to power here is a fantasy. Think Iran with a bit of Pol Pot thrown in.

On the other hand, the religious faction is well-monitored and owes much to the existing power base. Further, these people are strong in faith but lacking in organizational skills.

(Only a fool underestimates the bad guys, but I gotta call them as I see them.)

So we might well see a coup attempt, or maybe a palace rebellion, but I see no indication that I should stop buying green bananas. Yet.

Paul, what are your thoughts on the medium-to long-term? Do you see the House of Saud still in charge in 2010? 2025? What are the prospects for a pro-democracy movement emerging at any point? And if the answer to that last is “slim to none,” is keeping the Saudis in place the best option for all concerned?

Also, to bump the thread and ask a question, Paul in Saudi Do you see any signs that the Sauds are reforming from within? I’ve heard that many of the younger generation of leaders are all foriegn educated. Do you think this will have any effect? I also heard a rumor about a local city election there supposedly going or about to go to a candidate who was not a member of the royal family. Any help in tracking these down would be greatly appreciated (though probably poorly compensated) by me.

The Saudis want to maintain the status quo.

The Islamic clerics want to expand their influence and maintain their power.

The everyday Iraquis want to have a stable life.

The U.S. and other countries want the middle east oil.

A number of other countries want to keep their hand in the till for whatever thay can get.

The U.N. wants their cut.

China wants to muscle in.


One mad man with a suitcase bomb and alot of things could change in short order!

I’d have to agree with Paul in Saudi that there are no signs of imminent collapse, even in Riyadh where the religious loons are the worst. Any kind of revolution would be years away, probably 5 - 10 years at the very earliest.
The religious right are probably the only people who have any chance at all and I think that even their chance is slim. The average Saudi guy will praise Islam all day long but is not interested in turning his country into another Afghanistan. Aside from the religious folks, there aren’t any other good choices. A revolution needs a lot of popular support and I just don’t see where it would come from.
Having said all that, the royals have well and trulky screwed up in some major decisions. The religious zealots have the powers of arrest and detention as well as having a huge say in public education. There are a lot of historical reasons for this but the royals and the religious people are very uneasy allies.


Is there no Saudi democracy movement at all?

There is no Saudi democracy movement, although there are some ‘troublemakers’ who call for more freedoms. They seem to have no mass following or organization. Don’t expect much out of them.

There was a bit of a mass movement to allow women to drive, but that was almost fifteen years ago and got nowhere. The right-wing still denounces it.

What you have to understand is the vast majority of the Saudi people want more money from the communal pot, but they also want to keep traditional ways. The Royals are the progressive part of society. The people are the reactionary part.

This is what you get for letting the religious segment run the educational system.
We are scheduled for elections of half the local government slots in a couple of months. The government just backtracked on previous announcements and so women will NOT be allowed to vote.

Finally do not underestimate the political savvy of the al Sauds. They have been in power for a long time and are darn good at staying in power. The opposition is weak, disorganized and without leadership.

There is little chance of a revolution in the foreseeable future, say ten years. Even if there was one, it would not be towards Western ideals.

Sorry I’ve been absent from this thread (I was called away out of town again), but it doesn’t look like its taking off in any case. I appreciate the posts from everyone. Seems the collapse isn’t so assured as the Fox report makes it seem, which was pretty much what I was thinking. Having been to Saudi on business a few times myself I knew that they were a study in contridiction. Cosmopolitan in some reguards, hopeless parochial in others, but over all my outsiders impression was that the Royal family was not in iminent danger of losing control.


Is this any form of progress at all? Have they had elections before? Who is elligible to run.

This is all pretty much what I had gathered from reading. And this:

sums up one fucked-up situation. :frowning:

Reminds me of what one observer said to another regarding the Texas state legislature: “If you think these people are bad, you should see their constituents!” :smiley:

As to who can (or will) run, we have no clue. No electoral activity has begun yet. We may presume that all candidates will be vetted.

In any case, nobody really knows what local government does around here. Maybe snow removal, flood control stuff like that. Further, only half the local councils will be elected.

Expect no major changes.


Who are they really for then, if they will be basically lip service? American consumption?


Why would they try a coup, the two have been in bed together for centuries?

The “traditional Islamic principles” mentioned in your link require the leaders to also be religious, both publicly and privately. In the case of the royal family, they are seen as being too Western, too liberal, and to generally have taken up foreign ways.
If you look at the royals; they educate their children in the West, go the the US or UK when they get sick, take their vacations in Europe, go on unplanned shopping sprees at Harrods, etc etc. From the viewpoint of the average Saudi guy, the royals have too different a lifestyle to really understand his problems.


But they run schools that teach the Wahhabi principles in their country and finance such schools all over the world (even here). They finance terrorism and other activities that make us ask if they are really our friends. I was simply pointing out that the tie between the Saudi family and Wahhabism is stronger than many of us understand it to be. It was the fact that Wahhabism provided the Saudis with a religious foundation that brought about the Saudi dynasty. They may like our way of life, but they know in the end which side their bread is buttered on. The game they are playing is called “politics” (i.e. The often internally conflicting interrelationships among people in a society.)

:confused: Do you mean half the towns in SA will get elected councils, the rest to remain under royal governors or whatever? Or that every one will get a council in which half the members are elected, the other half appointed by the crown? Or what?