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Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Potential of Saudi Economic Reforms | Fikra Forum

The Potential of Saudi Economic Reforms | Fikra Forum

Few countries have received as much negative attention in Washington as Saudi Arabia over the last two years. Some of this is due to the politics of the Iranian nuclear deal and the Saudi response. It is also due to an attempt to make sense of the unprecedented breakdown of regional stability in the Middle East. The Kingdom, however, now ultimately serves as a convenient scapegoat.

It is certainly fair for U.S. policy makers to question some of Riyadh’s policies in the region. For example, it is unclear how the Kingdom’s military operations in Yemen or the stoking of sectarian tensions in the Syrian Civil War helps the United States.

On the other hand, the often overlooked fact is that Saudi regional adventurism is fundamentally driven by a sense of insecurity that leads the leadership to think it needs to act unilaterally to project strength. For example, with the Iran deal, the Saudis feel the United States is no longer quite the ally it once was. Long-time allies and bulwarks of regional stability like Egypt’s President Mubarak were overthrown almost overnight. The government now faces an even thornier, populist brand of ISIS-style jihadism than its former challenges with al-Qaeda.

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