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BVNW DebateSaudi Oil2014-2015Saudi internal stability key to Middle East stability, preventing terrorism, and preventing Iran aggressionCordesman 11(Anthony Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in strategy @ CSIS, 2/26/11, “Understanding Saudi Stability and Instability: A Very Different Nation” )History scarcely means we can take Saudi stability for granted. Saudi Arabia issimply too criticaltoUS strategic interests and the world.Saudi petroleum exports play a critical role in the stability and growth of a steadily more global economy, and the latest projections by the Department of Energy do not project any major reductions in the direct level of US dependence on oil imports through 2025. Saudi Arabia is as important to the region’s security and stability as it is to the world’s economy. It is the key to the efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council to create local defenses, and for US strategic cooperation with the Southern Gulf states. It plays a critical role as a counterbalance to a radical and more aggressive Iran, it is the source of the Arab League plan for a peace with Israel, and it has become a key partner in the war on terrorism.The US strategic posture in the Middle East depends on Saudi Arabia having a friendly and moderate regime. Finding the Balance No one can ignore the fact that Saudi leaders face many challenges that might explode into popular unrest if they are not handled with great skill. They have to try to retain power and popular support while constantly adjusting their actions to find the right balance between modernization and social progress and the desires of a very conservative population. They have to seek the best balance between those who focus on secular needs and call for rapid change, and religious leaders whose primary focus is to preserve the values of a puritanical form of Islam. Finding this balance means the monarchy, and Saudi elites and technocrats, must work within a political system and culture few Americans understand, and one that is hard to put in perspective. The Saudi monarchy is scarcely the representative democracy Americans are familiar with. Its limited experiments with a carefully selected national assembly or Majlis, and representative local government, have moved slowly and been very limited. At the same time, the Saudi monarchy has proved more adaptive and responsive to popular demands than many Middle Eastern regimes that use the title of president, or whose leaders are the product of much more authoritarian post-colonial regimes. The top leaders in the Saudi royal family may be firmly in charge, but they rely heavily on finding consensus within the entire royal family (now well over 5,000 members), with other leading families in Saudi Arabia, with technocrats and educators, and with its religious establishment and key leaders like the Al Shaikh family. Unlike most
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