The Saudi trinity: oil, God and security
With the winds of the "Arab spring" still blowing across the region, internally Saudi Arabia seems to have put in place three safeguards against the turbulence. Lavish economic handouts worth more than $70 billion were promised in February to absorb discontent. A package of economic, social, health and educational benefits was meant to absorb immediate frustration at lack of housing, jobs, health facilities, and welfare services. The regime promised more employment opportunities in two relevant sectors: the religious bureaucracy and the security services. The first absorbs the increasing number of graduates who cannot be employed in the private sector. The second strengthens the increasing militarization of Saudi society.
But this was still not enough. Religiously-sanctioned obedience to rulers had to be re-invoked to remind the constituency of a godly obligation. From the minarets of mosques, religious functionaries of the regime preached sermons in which they reminded their audiences of the obligation to obey God, the Prophet and the al-Saud rulers. They warned against demonstrations, civil disobedience and open criticism of the leadership. They glorified the current leadership for its adherence to Islam, and warned against chaos. They vehemently denounced Shiites for their agitations in the Eastern Province, where oil is abundant. Any call for demonstrations was depicted as a Shiite Iranian conspiracy against a pious Sunni nation. They called on the believers to support the rulers, much needed at a turbulent moment. Increasing sectarianism within Saudi Arabia is a reflection of an on-going cold war with Iran.
Posted by Main at 07:33 AM. Filed under: News And Views •