Saudi Arabia’s Iraq Dilemma

Saudi Arabia broke ranks with the Arab world’s opposition to military action against Iraq when Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal announced that the kingdom would allow the use of its military bases if the UN sanctions an attack on Iraq. The official Saudi press explains the new stance as reflecting the government’s desire to abide by Security Council resolutions. But it also underscores the Saudi regime’s growing feelings of internal fragility and external vulnerability.

Domestic pressure on the Saudi royal family, the al-Sauds, arises from widespread opposition to any war against Iraq, as well as to America’s military presence. Dissent comes not only from the street, but also from the Wahhabi religious establishment, the al-Sauds’ longstanding ally and source of their legitimacy. External pressure arises specifically from the US, Saudi Arabia’s primary strategic protector.

The al-Sauds have no easy option. They fear that cooperation with the Americans may not guarantee long-term stability, and worry that concessions on so fundamental an “Arab” cause as Iraq will further undermine their domestic legitimacy. 

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To access our archive, please log in or register now and read two articles from our archive every month for free. For unlimited access to our archive, as well as to the unrivaled analysis of PS On Point, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/nUSxvHV;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.