Saudi Arabia: Where to From Here?

تم نشره في Tue 7 November / Nov 2017. 01:00 AM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

Saudi Arabia has announced the detention of numerous princess, businessmen and senior officials and ministers for corruption related charges. The Lebanese Prime Ministers Saad Hariri also announced his resignation from Riyadh, something the world will never forget. US President Donald Trump blessed Saudi’s decisions. Agitation between Saudi Arabia and Iran has renewed.

It is also likely that the Saudi-UAE-Qatari crisis will see further re-escalation, and all of it is taking place in this precise, and perhaps decisive Saudi moment.

Meanwhile, as oil prices remain at an all-time low, Saudi is preparing to launch into an altogether new economic adventure.

The outcomes of this adventure are unclear.

On the domestic, political frontier, the Saudi regime has advanced various measures to reconstruct the relationship between the state and the religious institution.

As a result, this young prince, who is commandeering the Saudi ship through the storm of evolution, turmoil and transformation, is going to have to consolidate power in order to grasp this precise moment.

Obviously, he is relying on the US’s blessing, Trump’s in particular. We still have no idea how the other American departments and agencies feel about this yet.

Regionally too, there seems to be a strong alliance building up between the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Domestically, he’s aligning himself with the liberal current of Saudi men and women, alongside corporate and business figures, and on a vast population of youth, eager for a new Saudi Arabia.

With the surge of a new Saudi Arabian horizon, it is only natural to find the Saudi public opinion discombobulated by everything that is going on. Especially with all the media and political analyses trying to uncover the specificities of what really happened.

There are reports circulating the media, claiming that these arrests are not really intended to combat corruption, but to actually silence opposition.

Regardless the reason behind it, this highlights a new approach to state governance and the abolition of Saudi “conservatism”.

This “probe” will greatly help the Saudi rearrangements, internally.

However, to every such venture there are results and outcomes, and the fear is that Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s adventure may not find its place among Saudis, or the state for that matter.

The Salafi current in Saudi Arabia has deep roots, especially the Sahwa movement, whose popular base is strong, are they are not happy about the arrest of their leaders.

Just recently, Dr Salman Odeh, one of the Sahwa Salafist movement’s most prominent leaders was arrested, which indicates a possible transmutation in the identity of Saudi Arabia.

It goes beyond the Salafi movement to the traditional religious institution, the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars above all, who also do not like the current ongoing. It may erode their popularity and drive away members of the traditional Saudi Islamist currents to join other, perhaps more radical currents, like the Jihadists, who are not pleased either by these changes and enjoy a very solid base among Saudis.

The same goes for the Shiite minorities in Saudi Arabia, who gain nothing from these developments.

In fact, they may be negatively affected be the re-escalation with Iran!

Collision among these components of the Saudi Arabian society is not going to be easy. It is the stepping stone of a subtle domestic dispute that could explode at any given moment on the long run, as the Saudi relationship with Iran and Qatar deteriorates further.

This is especially true with the presence of an unstable US administration, overseeing a highly volatile situation as it is!

To sum it all up, Saudi Arabia is undergoing its most dangerous political and economic shift yet, on all frontiers, domestic and regional.

Without a doubt, this will lay the foundations of Saudi’s future, whether it succeeds or fails!

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.