Unnerved by changes taking place across the Middle East and North Africa, Saudi Arabia has sought to undertake drastic measures to ensure its security at home and in the region. However, its measures are in fact achieving the opposite. Rather than dealing with the political aspirations of its own citizens or those in neighboring Bahrain, where Riyadh has intervened militarily to help crush pro-democracy protests, Saudi Arabia is turning back the clock at home and provoking a potential crisis with Iran.
Recent tactics used by this key American ally may be exacerbating security risks and creating an environment that will make it more difficult for the United States to secure its interests. Whether Washington is prepared to accept Saudi Arabia’s strategy in the Gulf is a critical question. On one hand, the United States needs the kingdom, not least for their oil. On the other, the price of that alliance has increased significantly in recent weeks.