Saudi Arabia is unsurprisingly the most conservative and stable monarchy in the Middle East. Not only is there geographical and economic ties to the West of extreme significance but also their stance on the current issues concerning the region. Stephane Lacroix highlights the effect of the Arab Spring nonexistent to the core of Saudi Arabia’s politics and instead made the kingdom highly alerted and initiate stronger law enforcement. This was evident when the population of the Shia minority began to rally for reform after being inspired by the Egyptians and Libyans. This was seen as a very large threat to the Salafi traditions and customs that many in Saudi Arabia are loyal to.
The case in Saudi Arabia is considerably different because many of the important and conservative leaders of Islam feel that any kind of protests and change to the established way of things concerns Islamic principles as well as religious establishment set in the country. Many see Saudi as an special case because it contains Islam’s holiest site, Mecca that hosts millions of pilgrims every year from around the world for a religious pilgrimage. It’s important to note that Saudi Arabia is not the only country that harshly silenced the protests, Bahrain has the largest population of Shia Muslims that received harsh police brutality for protesting the inequality and discrimination received by the Sunni monarchy.
That being said, the Arab Spring did little to no change in the Arab Gulf and in fact created an even highly secure state. Since then, there has been a rise in digital activism with a wave of social media from the “forgotten prisoners” to police brutality and even women to drive in Saudi Arabia. Lacroix also provides the idea that Saudi Arabia was saved by many of the Islamic clerics and imams who would feature on TV to warn people to not protest and instead blame the rise of uprisings on those who were enemies of the Ummah. However, due to the rise of digital activism the youth in particular were adamant to produce change. To compensate and prevent any kind of mass uprising King Abdullah began to appoint some reforms.
I think after reading the article, the major issue that Saudi Arabia wanted to avoid was a whole wide demonstration for human rights which was the main driving point of the Egyptians and Libyans. This poses a threat not only to the politics of the country and the region but also to the Saudi royal family that upholds maintaining power of the country and keeping things the way they are.