February 13, 2005

Crown Prince Abdullah - A "Reformer" Who Gets to Keep Absolute Power

While I hadn't thought of it in terms of exactly the string of connections Matt Yglesias brings up here - he's largerly spot on. These elections do make Abdullah look good in US eyes, while also making clear that the US shouldn't pressure the Saudis (not that they'd ever really dream of doing so) because any successor state would be far worse for the US. So everybody wins - Bush gets to talk about "democracy" spreading across the region, the Saudis get to keep their unquestioned power in the country, and both regimes get the benefit of getting al-Jazeera shut down (not directly related to this point, but since Matt brings it up ....).

The only problems with this analysis are that 1) the election results may embolden more aggressive actions by rebelious religious types in the country - and while I presume the government can handle that, that group is not small in number so we could see greater instability in the future and 2) this overstates the role the Crown Prince has in the country. Yes, he's a key figure, and he's certainly the key figure supporting elections, but it's best to remember that the family does like to act on the basis of consensus when possible, and the Crown Prince has several half-brothers and nephews who would like to undermine him.

Posted by armand at February 13, 2005 02:17 PM | TrackBack | Posted to International Affairs

Post a comment

Remember personal info?