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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Issue 1818

Change in Saudi Arabia
Introduction
Introduction

Those Exceptional Saudis

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

“Exceptionalism” was long claimed for America, at least until a president informed us that every nation considers itself exceptional. However that may be, one place now merits that description: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where past, present, and future are entangled as nowhere else; a family, a state, a religion, and an empire variously maneuver for prominence depending on the lens through which the outside world views them. Which is it? What is Saudi Arabia? And how much can it move the political markets of world affairs?

Featured Analysis
Featured Analysis

Saudi Arabia’s Reforms And The United States

by Bernard Haykelvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The reign of King Salman of Saudi Arabia (since January 2015) represents a significant watershed in the history of the kingdom’s system of governance as well as in its domestic and foreign policies. These changes reflect the priorities of the king, who is an absolute monarch. The first, and most important, of these is the handing over of de facto rule to a prince of the younger generation: the king’s 32-year-old son and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (known in the West by his acronym MBS), who will become the reigning monarch upon his father’s passing.

Featured Analysis

Bin Salman And The Promise (Or Peril) Of Reform

by Nadav Saminvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A mass drugging is how one young Saudi man in Riyadh described to me Mohammad Bin Salman’s Vision 2030, eight months after its ostentatious launch in April 2016.  Smoke and mirrors, he meant.  Since then, the energetic and youthful Saudi crown prince has surprised his critics by upending a number of his country’s political, economic, and cultural norms.  But can he safely deliver more change to an already rapidly changing society?  How much tinkering can one do with a fragile polity before it cracks under the pressure?

Featured Analysis

Saudi Reform And Security Through A Gulf Lens

by Lori Plotkin Boghardtvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The arrest of several of the kingdom’s most prominent women’s rights activists six weeks before the date when women would be allowed to drive came as a shock to everyone.  After news of the detentions spread through informal channels, an official announcement on May 19 referred ambiguously to the detention of individuals seeking “to undermine the security and stability of the kingdom” and erode “national unity” through various activities.  Local news outlets quickly vilified the activists – some well-known abroad as peaceful advocates – and branded them “traitors.” 

Featured Analysis

Social Reform In The Kingdom: Between “Westernizers” And “Guardians Of Virtue”

by Cole Bunzelvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

“These astonishing things that have been happening in the Land of the Two Holy Places … if King Abd al-Aziz were to come out of his grave and witness them, he would not believe that this is his kingdom that he worked so hard to establish and unite.” So lamented Abd al-Muhsin al-‘Abbad, an outspoken Wahhabi cleric, in a late 2017 assessment of the social reforms being implemented in Saudi Arabia. The king in question was the founder of the modern realm, Abd al-Aziz ibn Sa‘ud (d. 1953), who is also the father of the present king, Salman, and grandfather of the new crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman (MbS).

Featured Analysis

Saudi Arabia And The Electric Car Revolution

by Afshin Molavivia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

“Everyone has a plan,” the great American boxer Mike Tyson once quipped, “that is, until you get punched in the face.” Saudi Arabia, as the world knows by now, has a plan. In fact, the Saudi Vision 2030, unveiled in dramatic fashion in April 2016 with a roll-out similar to the launch of a new iPhone, has become one of the most well-known national transformation plans in the world. It has become almost a by-word for the changes dawning in the Kingdom, and the calling card for the reformist credentials of the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Featured Analysis

Saudi Arabia, The United States And The Anti-Iran Front In The Middle East

by F. Gregory Gause, IIIvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Though he fancies unpredictability a useful negotiating tool, President Trump has been remarkably consistent about the Middle East. He campaigned against the Iran nuclear deal and in May 2018 withdrew the United States from it. He promised, as most presidential candidates have done, to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Unlike any other successful candidate, he actually did it, also in May 2018.

Featured Analysis

Saudi Reform: Essential But Perilous

by Ali Shihabivia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Saudi Arabia is undergoing a perilous, but essential transformation. Those wishing to safeguard one of the last bastions of Middle East stability should support Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s (MBS) dramatic socioeconomic reforms and also appreciate the challenges, resistance, and limitations amid which he is forced to operate. As rapid reform risks destabilizing the kingdom’s broad and deeply divided political base, rule by consensus will not work. Only a strong hand can balance Saudi Arabia’s competing constituencies.

Featured Analysis

Saudi Arabia At A Crossroads

by Elham Maneavia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Saudi Arabia, a kingdom grounded in a dynastic religious alliance, stands at a crossroads. Some observers and journalists, both Western and Arab, eyeing the new assertive leadership of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (henceforth MbS) and his promised economic and social reforms, have rushed to declare him a ‘reformer’.

Featured Analysis

Saudi Arabia Or Iran In US Strategy

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Effective US policy toward Saudi Arabia requires familiarity with the intricacies of its history and society, of course. The legacies of the foundation of the state, the traditional collaboration of political and religious leadership and the burdensome privileges of the extended royal family still weigh on the Saudi present, even as new circumstances develop, especially the ambitions of the young generation, eager for the reforms promised by the bold leadership of the Crown Prince.

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Introduction

Talking to Islamists in Power

by Fouad Ajamivia The Caravan
Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Arab autocrats have been toppled, the Islamists have stepped forth.  Islamists have come to various degrees of power in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt.  Some prophesy an outcome in Syria destined to favor the Muslim Brotherhood if and when the Assad dictatorship is overthrown.

Featured Analysis

Patience

by Fouad Ajamivia The Caravan
Thursday, August 16, 2012

These Islamists favored by the ballot box are not the Islamists of yore, hunted down by the mukhabarat (secret police).  This is not the Muslim Brotherhood of the 1940s and 50s – conspirators pledged to the destruction of the ru

Featured Analysis

Nothing to Talk About

by Marius Deebvia The Caravan
Wednesday, August 15, 2012

THE ISLAMISTS WHO CAME TO POWER NOT THROUGH THE BALLOT BOX

Featured Analysis

Turkey's Offer

via The Caravan
Tuesday, August 14, 2012

If the fight for Syria is the dominant issue in Turkish foreign policy, an observer can be forgiven the conclusion that Arakan is the second.

Featured Analysis

Talking to Islamists - Israel's Choices

by Itamar Rabinovichvia The Caravan
Monday, August 13, 2012

The policy debate on the proper response to the challenges presented by the recent surge in Islamist power and influence in the Middle East is also a matter of geography.

Featured Analysis

Promoting Democracy, Promoting Change: European Lessons

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lessons from Europe can shed light on the challenge of Islamism in power. The experience of two world wars seemed to prove that Germans could never accept democracy. Yet Germany became an exemplary liberal democracy and the anchor for European stability.

Featured Analysis

Engaging Fundamentalists

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Saturday, August 11, 2012

Given the growing strength and electoral triumphs of fundamentalists in the Middle East, many in Washington fear that the administration just can’t handle Islamists.

Featured Analysis

The Challenge of the “New Islamists:” How to Deal with Islamists Empowered through the Ballot Box

by Robert Satloffvia The Caravan
Friday, August 10, 2012

For more than two hundred years, the United States has talked with Islamists in power. What separates that historical experience with today’s challenge is that U.S.

Featured Analysis

Turbulence

by Leon Wieseltiervia The Caravan
Thursday, August 9, 2012

These are the most vexing questions of this historical moment, and I deny that anybody has the answers to them yet. Looking backward, I think that two observations can be made with some confidence.

Featured Analysis

Talking Terror with Islamists

by Bruce Riedelvia The Caravan
Wednesday, August 8, 2012

As America begins to talk to the new Islamist governments in Egypt, Tunisia and other Arab countries it will need to have two dialogues.

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The Caravan is envisaged as a periodic symposium on the contemporary dilemmas of the Greater Middle East. It will be a free and candid exchange of opinions. We shall not lack for topics of debate, for that arc of geography has contentions aplenty. It is our intention to come back with urgent topics that engage us. Caravans are full of life and animated companionship. Hence the name we chose for this endeavor.

We will draw on the membership of Hoover's Herbert and Jane Dwight Working Group on Islamism and the International Order, and on colleagues elsewhere who work that same political and cultural landscape. Russell Berman and Charlie Hill cochair the project from which this effort originates.