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Why is Saudi Arabia changing its foreign policy ? Interview with Toby Craig Jones

Why is Saudi Arabia changing its foreign policy ?
Interview with Toby Craig Jones
http://thequestiontoday.com/2013/why-is-saudi-arabia-changing-its-foreign-policyinterview-with-toby

Since the beginning of the Arab Spring, the Saudis have become much more active regionally. Not just in Syria, but also in Yemen and Bahrain. According to Saudi insider and royal adviser Nawaf Obaid, the Saudis are embarking on a doctrinal shift towards a more “activist foreign policy”. Is this because the Saudis are reacting to a vacuum in U.S. leadership in the region?

JONES : It’s an interesting question, whether or not the Saudis are acting in an American vacuum. But I actually think the U.S. has more consistently supported the Saudi position than they’ve opposed it, most visibly in Bahrain and in Yemen. And also in Egypt where the United States now supports the military regime and has not really had any problems with the coup there this past summer which was certainly delightful to the Saudis.

To answer your original question, yes, the Saudis have become more active in the region, (...)

Overall, the Saudi concerns and reasons for the recent increase in foreign political activity comes down to three issues:

First, there’s Syria, Bahrain and the fear of Iranian regional hegemony. The increase in Saudi activity here is best seen through the lens of a balance of power consideration: They want to check Iranian ambitions in the region. (...)

The second issue has to do with fears about democratic transition and change. The Saudis are simply fearful that there could be more support in the region for democratic politics. They want to support the status quo, the old autocrats and all the perquisites that follow from that.

The third thing is connected to the second issue. If there is a popular change in government and more people have a say in the workings of domestic political economy, decision making could shift to more populist kinds of politics. The consequences of that for the Saudis in particular of course would be, that they would lose their grip over the ability to generate massive wealth for themselves and to live their lives of considerable privilege. Being a Saudi not only means that you have power over the Arabian peninsula, it also means that you have fantastic wealth, you know, gold plated 747′s [Boeing airliners], multiple palaces, the ability to travel and so on. It’s a business as much as it is a country, and the Saudis fear the possible passing of their ability to control that.

Autre question abordée : les dirigeants de l’Arabie ont-ils vraiment les moyens et le désir de rompre avec les Etats-Unis ?

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