The Sorrows of Egypt: A Tale of Two Men
Back to the Bazaar
Freedom and Justice in the Modern Middle East
Adrift on the Nile
The Limits of the Opposition in Egypt
Is El Baradei Egypt's Hero?
Mohamed El Baradei and the Chance for Reform
Morning in Tunisia
The Frustrations of the Arab World Boil Over
Letter From Cairo
The People's Military in Egypt?
The U.S.-Egyptian Breakup
Washington's Limited Options in Cairo
The Muslim Brotherhood After Mubarak
What the Brotherhood Is and How it Will Shape the Future
Egypt's Democratic Mirage
How Cairo’s Authoritarian Regime Is Adapting to Preserve Itself
Overcoming Fear and Anxiety in Tel Aviv
How Israel Can Turn Egypt's Unrest Into an Opportunity
Mubarakism Without Mubarak
Why Egypt’s Military Will Not Embrace Democracy
Postcolonial Time Disorder
Egypt and the Middle East, Stuck in the Past
Egypt's Constitutional Ghosts
Deciding the Terms of Cairo’s Democratic Transition
A Tunisian Solution for Egypt’s Military
Why Egypt's Military Will Not Be Able to Govern
The Fall of the Pharaoh
How Hosni Mubarak’s Reign Came to an End
The Black Swan of Cairo
How Suppressing Volatility Makes the World Less Predictable and More Dangerous
Green Movement 2.0?
How U.S. Support Could Lead the Opposition to Victory
Letter From Sana’a
Saleh on the Edge
Bahrain’s Shia Question
What the United States Gets Wrong About Sectarianism
Rage Comes to Baghdad
Will Iraq's Recent Protests Lead to Revolt?
The Sturdy House That Assad Built
Why Damascus Is Not Cairo
Rageless in Riyadh
Why the Al Saud Dynasty Will Remain
Syria's Assad No Longer in Vogue
What Everyone Got Wrong About Bashar al-Assad
Meanwhile in the Maghreb
Have Algeria and Morocco Avoided North Africa’s Unrest?
Bahrain's Base Politics
The Arab Spring and America’s Military Bases
Let Them Eat Bread
How Food Subsidies Prevent (and Provoke) Revolutions in the Middle East
Libya's Terra Incognita
Who and What Will Follow Qaddafi?
What Intervention Looks Like
How the West Can Aid the Libyan Rebels
The Folly of Protection
Is Intervention Against Qaddafi’s Regime Legal and Legitimate?
To the Shores of Tripoli
Why Operation Odyssey Dawn Should Not Stop At Benghazi
A New Lease on Life for Humanitarianism
How Operation Odyssey Dawn Will Revive RtoP
The Mythology of Intervention
Debating the Lessons of History in Libya
Flight of the Valkyries?
What Gender Does and Doesn’t Tell Us About Operation Odyssey Dawn
Winning Ugly in Libya
What the United States Should Learn From Its War in Kosovo
Demystifying the Arab Spring
Parsing the Differences Between Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya
Understanding the Revolutions of 2011
Weakness and Resilience in Middle Eastern Autocracies
The Heirs of Nasser
Who Will Benefit From the Second Arab Revolution?
The Rise of the Islamists
How Islamists Will Change Politics, and Vice Versa
Terrorism After the Revolutions
How Secular Uprisings Could Help (or Hurt) Jihadists
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia’s opposition bloggers and Facebook users called for a “day of rage” to be held on Friday, March 11, modeled after those in neighboring Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen. There was no reason to think that Saudi Arabia would be immune to the protest contagion. After all, the problems facing Saudi Arabia are similar in kind (if not extent) to those of the other Arab states. Saudi Arabia has a demographic youth bulge. Like other Arab nations, it has a serious youth unemployment problem. It has an autocratic government that prevents serious political participation. It is a rich country but with low per capita income compared to its smaller Gulf neighbors. Even Bahrain, wracked with protests, has a higher per capita GDP, $40,400 compared to Saudi Arabia’s $24,200. And the positive response of thousands of Saudis to online petitions for political reform, especially on Dawlaty.info and Saudireform.com, indicates that plenty of people in the country want some kind of change.
But the calls for a “day of rage” met with almost no response except for a few relatively small protests in Shiite-majority areas of the Eastern Province. The Saudi media, which had studiously ignored the online calls, crowed on Saturday about the protests’ failure, mocking the “day of rage” as a “day of calm” and a “day of reassurance.”
Perhaps we should not have been so surprised. In late January, all of the elements for popular mobilization against the regime appeared to be in place. In Saudi Arabia’s second-largest city, Jeddah, there was devastating flooding, during which at least ten people died, many more were injured, and millions of dollars in property was damaged. This followed even more damaging flooding in late 2009. This manifest government failure occurred just as the rest of the Arab world was exploding: protesters in Tunisia had just driven their president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, from power (to exile in Jeddah, of all places), and Egyptians were mobilizing by the hundreds
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