Stuck (or Not) in a "Special Relationship"

by Toby Jones | published March 27, 2014 - 2:20pm

What to make of the anxieties surfacing in the press in advance of President Barack Obama’s stopover in Saudi Arabia? Is the US-Saudi “special relationship” really in trouble?

Officials say no, of course. But beneath the surface, the relationship is indeed marked by uncertainty. The rulers in Riyadh have come to question Washington’s commitment to the kingdom’s security, to Saudi primacy in the Gulf and to what has been one of the region’s most durable (and profitable) alliances.

Romancing the Throne

by Sheila Carapico | published March 27, 2014 - 12:07pm

President Barack Obama plans an overnight stay in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on March 28-29 for a rendezvous with King ‘Abdallah. The enduring but always strange bedfellows have been quarreling of late over Saudi Arabia’s belligerent relations with neighbors Iran and Syria. Both sides hope during this visit to kiss and make up.

Saudis' Mass Expulsions Putting Somalis in Danger

by Laetitia Bader , Adam Coogle | published March 18, 2014

In 2013, Mohamed, a 22-year old Somali, was making a living washing cars in Saudi Arabia. Late that year, due to increasing government pressure on employers of undocumented workers, he was fired. In December, after several weeks without a job, Mohamed handed himself over to the police. He spent the next 57 days detained in appalling conditions. “In the first detention center in Riyadh, there was so little food, we fought over it,” he said. “So the strongest ate the most. Guards told us to face the wall and then beat our backs with metal rods. In the second place, there were two toilets for 1,200 people, including dozens of children.” Mohamed is now in Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

Saudi Bullying of Qatar

by Sheila Carapico | published March 13, 2014 - 4:45pm

Just ahead of a planned state visit from President Barack Obama, Saudi Arabia is brandishing the threat of a land and naval blockade against its neighbor and fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member Qatar.

Demonstrators, Dialogues, Drones and Dialectics

by Sheila Carapico
published in MER269

In 2011 Yemenis shared a vision of revolutionary change with protesters in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria demanding the downfall of cruel, corrupt presidential regimes. Today, like many of their cousins, the peaceful youth (shabab silmiyya) of Yemen face a counter-revolutionary maelstrom from within and without. If Gulf sultans were anxious about insurrection in North Africa, they were even more fearful of subaltern uprisings in their own neighborhood.

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Recession Hits Saudi Oil Sector

by A Special Correspondent
published in MER120

A visitor to the kingdom might be startled to hear Saudis speak of a “recession” here. Non-oil growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) is proceeding at a 6 percent clip. Unemployment is nil and construction sites still appear to be eating up the desert around every major city. It hardly looks like a recession. Nevertheless, a leaner economic climate is unmistakable. Saudi and foreign contractors alike complain of a slowdown in government payments that leaves them short of cash. The private sector is pruning payrolls and expenses, and layoffs are underway at two of the country’s largest employers, Aramco and the national airline, Saudia. Demand for many key goods and services has stabilized, leaving traders in the lurch.

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"We Are Rebuilding Our Organization"

Interview with Saudi Arabian Opposition Figure

by
published in MER130

“Ahmad” is a representative of the Socialist Labor Party in the Arabian Peninsula. MERIP interviewed him in February 1984.

What were the origins of your party?

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Books on Saudi Arabian Economics

by Christian Huxley
published in MER140

Michael Field, The Merchants (London: John Murray, 1984).

John R. Presley, A Guide to the Saudi Arabian Economy (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984).

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Peterson, Defending Arabia

by Fred H. Lawson
published in MER148

J. E. Peterson, Defending Arabia (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986).

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The Rabita Affair

by Erkan Akin , Ömer Karasapan
published in MER153

The Rabita affair underlines the extent to which the post-1980 regime in Turkey has turned to Islam as a bulwark against the left. “Rabita” -- the Saudi-based Rabit’at al-Alam al-Islami (World Islamic League) -- advocates the establishment of a pan-Islamic federation based on the shari‘a. One would have expected it to be among the last allies sought by Turkey’s Atatürkist generals, since it promotes a political system anathema to the military and funds publications which denounce Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his secular policies.

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