Informal networks and Saudi regime stability
McAllister, David H
Robinson, Glenn E.
Looney, Robert E.
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The increasingly vocal Islamist opposition to the Saudi regime, which gathered strength following the Gulf War, lent new urgency to predictions of the regime's demise. The fact that the Saud family has retained control of the government throughout this period of gloomy forecasting prompts the question - how has the Saudi regime managed to confound popular expectations and maintain power in the face of increasing Islamist opposition? The central thesis of this study is that the Saudi government has prevented opposition groups from gaining significant popular following or developing power bases by eliminating or controlling informal networks within Saudi Arabia. This position differs from the most widely accepted explanations, which center around oil revenues resulting from the 1970's oil boom as the key factor in the longevity of the royal family. While undoubtedly an important tool used liberally by the Al Saud, this thesis argues oil revenues are secondary in importance and only part of a much larger and more significant effort in the regime's struggle against its opposition. This study assesses whether Islamist opposition can seriously challenge the Saudi government by analyzing three case studies (concerning Pakistan and Egypt as well as Saudi Arabia) which consider how Islamist groups organize, what types of organizations are successfull in challenging central authority, and how regimes respond to such challenges. Placing this information in context with the dominant roles tribe, class, and religion play in Saudi society provides a better foundation for assessing the future stability of the Saudi regime than traditional rentier theory
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