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Great Power Series
House of the Rising Saud

When we nominated Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s great powers earlier this month (as part of our ongoing Power Series), a lot of people raised questions. But is the conventional wisdom coming around? An extensive piece in The New York Times today profiles the House of Saud’s increased preeminence in a region of faltering states.

More than that, you can see an homage to that power in the rush of world leaders to the funeral of the late King Abdullah. As Ross Douthat pointed out this Sunday, many didn’t like the man, and even fewer believed the effusive praise that they and their governments were heaping on him. But they issued the eulogies nonetheless. These are the outward signs of the raw power that Saudi Arabia, for better or for worse, has amassed and skillfully deployed.

Iran’s hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East tend to dominate policy discussions, with good reason. But perhaps the most significant, most underreported power dynamic of 2014 was Saudi Arabia flexing muscles that no one knew they had.

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  • SlidinDelta

    You might want to revised Saudi Arabia great power status if Yemen truly goes jihadist. The Gulf royalists are going to find themselves increasingly surrounded by Islamists whose ultimate aim will doubtless be the capture of Mecca.

  • Anthony

    “The death of King Abdullah provides a good opportunity to reflect on the long and troubled relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. It is not, by any stretch, an obvious or easy or natural alliance. The U.S. is the land of the free; and Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive societies on the planet, a country where not only do the people have no say in the selection of their leaders but where bloggers are flogged and woman are prevented from driving. The U.S. is animated by Enlightenment ideals, Saudi Arabia by the fundamentalist Wahhabi strain of Islam….” Indeed, Saudi muscle flexing and U.S.- Saudi relations after Abdullah are part of regional continuum…

  • Jojo Jobxyzone

    Threatened by Shia from Iraq, from Iran, from Yemen, from Bahrain and from within. Threatened by Da’ash from the north. Cash flow negative, high unemployment, squabbling princes, plutocratic society, collapsing oil prices, no longer needed by oil producing US, heavily infested by AQ.

    Wouldn’t invest in the Saudi stock market, or buy property in this “great” power.

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