Saudi Arabia: YOUR Predications are Welcomed

American Bedu readers like to debate so I decided (with some prompting from Jay K.) to give YOU the free rein to debate.  As has been pointed out by Jay and hourly in the world news, the Middle East is in turmoil from Morocco to Iran.  This turmoil is cascading like a tidal wave to other parts of the world including the United States.  Gas prices seem to be rising with hourly news and the U.S. government is contemplating which action to take in Libya in order to oust Qadafi, protect the citizens of Libya and restore a semblance to peace along with democracy.  (what a mouthful that was to spit out…)

Protests took place in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province yesterday demanding release of political prisoners.  It still remains to be seen whether country wide protests will erupt on 11 March on what is being referred to as “Saudi’s Day of Rage.”  On his return to Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah increased spending on housing, education and social welfare.  Yet in spite of this infusion of funds and the popularity of the King, according to Saudi lawyer, Khalid Alnowaiser more, much more, must be done.

So now I return to the topic of this post which is YOUR predictions are welcomed.  Where do YOU see the state of affairs in the Arab World by 31 December?  After all, that is only ten months away.  Surely we as educated people can provide reasonable analysis on how the dominos will or will not fall.  Will Libya be free of the King of Kings by then?  Will Tunisia return to stability?  Will there be significant reforms in Saudi Arabia?  Will Egypt hold elections? Will the Brotherhood win?  What will happen in Jordan?  Will Qatar remain quiet?  In closing, what will be the going price of oil by 31 December 2011?

34 Responses

  1. Love the crystal ball!

  2. @Aafke – Thanks!

  3. I am crossing my fingers, hoping the outcomes will be positive. Part of me has my heart sinking as some of these countries, namely Egypt might have the same fate as Iran 1979. The Muslim Brotherhood has been rearing its’ head for a long time and the organization is getting worse. Case in point, the reason they think Mubarak was so bad is all th influences of the west. Sorry to be so negative, but there was a war without a concret plan. Perhaps, a lot of fighting along sectarian lines will ensue.
    Now on the other hand, the fights in ME are counter to the riots in the 1950s and 1960s and so on. The younger generation want more of democracy, more reform and more modernarity, unllike generation before, that generation, breaking away from post-colonialism and redefining themselves.
    A suggested reading by the way is Jihad Childen by Jared Cohen. In essense, the young people in region want more democracy but it is bitter fight against the older more authoriatarian generation.

  4. Jacey, I read “Children of Jihad” last year and enjoyed it!

  5. Changes will be sure, but what i can’t foresee is how the countries will finally settle down after the uprisings. Tunisia- still in Army control, will have to wait and see if the promised elections would come. Egypt- The Muslim Brotherhood’s tight grip- will it earn a victory in polls? Can’t say. Libya- full fledged civil war probably closed by US intervention to save the innocent civilians. Jordan- more reforms expected. Saudi Arabia- would follow suit. And the best of all your questions- oil price, that i expect to hit 220US$ per barrel:( Ouch….a real pinch in our pockets expected…

  6. Here’s what I’m seeing in my little crystal ball?

    The mostly-Western wishes for American-style democracy will go unanswered in the Middle East.

    Most folks here want the benefits and trappings of democracy, but no more want a president than most Americans want a king. Instead, a new hybrid government system will be formed which holds onto the past while at least accepting the reality of the future. Look for constitutional monarchies, limited electoral issues, an opening up of personal and social freedoms.

    Egypt will find her way out of the post-revolution mess, Tunisia may not. Lybians will be free of Qaddafi, but – remember they have oil – so expect a Western hand in any solution that comes down the road. Bahrain will see some change, but Saudi won’t let the majority Shia gain too much control there, despite Iran’s best efforts. At some point, the term Proxy revolution will come up. Kuwait will be forced to fairly deal with the bedoon question brought on by 1951 arrangements, and Jordan will be fine. King Abdullah has always been ahead of the ME game, and he will come thru a winner, refusing to allow Palestinian issues to impact his Kingdom and concentrating on what matters at home (Good lesson for Prez Obama, perhaps?) . Qatar will go unscathed and unchanged, the few Qataris there have a pretty sweet deal and the expats dont have the clout to do anything about mistreatment. Ditto for the UAEs.

    What happens here in Saudi in the remainder of 2011 truly depends on the health and personal power of King Adbullah as well as his will to make permanent and lasting change – which has been some lacking thus far.

    I agree with much of what Khalid Alnowaiser wrote – great piece btw. So many actual reforms need to be made here and made quickly – while Abdullah is still able to push them thru. Once he’s gone, things are gonna look a lot different. Remember, Naif is the one who said that as long as there is Islam there with PVPV, so no POSITIVE reforms can be expected from that camp if they happen to slide into power.

    The generation gap here in Saudi is not going away, and as more young people connect with like-minded young people here and around the world, the calls for meaningful reform will continue to escalate – despite more handouts and empty promises which are surely on the horizon.

    Folks are always telling me that change happens at a snail’s pace here in Saudi because that’s the way the people want it to happen. I disagree. Change is slow here because the government is terrified that if the people are even minimally re-empowered they will start asking questions.

    We’re at that point now, I think. Saudi Arabs are asking questions – and those questions will keep being asked until someone in Riyadh comes up with the right answer. And here’s a hint: it’s not more money, it’s more integrity.

  7. Carol,

    God only knows what will happen to the Middle East in the future.:) That’s why I love your clear crystal ball.
    The younger generation is increasing daily. In the past, it was easy to put almost everyone on the board or hand them other top positions whether they deserved a spot or not. Now, many who have wasta, also have a good education so the inner workings of everything in the country are bound to improve.

    Today, in the newspaper, it said that protests are no longer allowed. (I had to laugh because I always thought that they were illegal to begin with. I think that no more than 3 people can meet at a time in any given space without permission, right?)
    The young people need somewhere to go. Simple freedoms such as walking paths, parks, pools, beaches, and leisure outlets can help relieve a lot of steam and stress. Perhaps even an outdoor gym for those who cannot afford a membership. (Example for those who have not seen one: You walk so far and do certain warm-up exercises like stretching, then walk further and perhaps do pull-ups, walk again and do jumping jacks. etc.) This would be excellent along the Corniche. They need activities for the young, run by the young, to keep them employed, entertained, and happy.


    Your Majesty:

    As a Saudi national, I am writing to say how pleased I am to see your return to the Kingdom after successful medical treatment. I am sure this feeling is shared by all Saudis, since your citizens not only hold you in high esteem but you are also, in an unprecedented way, very close to the heart of all Saudis and indeed the symbol of reform and stability in our country.

    Having said that, permit me to candidly express my concern about many challenges Saudi Arabia faces as never before. As you know, the entire Middle East is experiencing profound political turmoil. Regional events have shown that the power of any running system really depends upon how strong, peaceful and transparent is the relation between the regime and its people.

    Notwithstanding some positive steps taken in recent years which no one can deny, “reform” too often is regarded as a cliché. Given recent events, our country now needs urgent and more meaningful reform measures, particularly since life nowadays is changing very rapidly and unbelievably.

    Politically, inclusive reforms must be introduced by establishing institutions that can be in real partnership with the government. The formation of the Shura Council is a step forward, but its current role is not up to the huge challenges that the country now faces. It is high time for real and effective council that can take part in political decision-making and that can be achieved only if an election is introduced. Such an effective institution, if constituted properly, will not be threat to the country but instead help to reduce the regime’s huge responsibilities which no government ever can bear alone.

    Saudi Arabia, like any other countries in the world, must have a social contract where the rights and obligations of each party (individuals and government) are clearly defined. This will never be accomplished until there is a formalized national constitution. Without one, personal freedom is not guaranteed, leading to social unrest and chaos. The Holy Quran is not such a constitution since the latter means it is the product of human beings. By contrast, the Quran is the creation of Allah and commands the highest reverence and respect, though it must be the main basis of the national constitution since Saudi Arabia is the birth place of Islam.

    Moreover, it is time to take the initiative in educating Saudis on the subject of “political rights”. This will allow the Kingdom to differentiate it from other countries where repression exists. Rather than viewing it as a threat, greater political rights will lead to more political stability. Simply stated, if one knows his political rights, he can work with his government to build the nation. If not, he may easily be solicited by terrorist groups or become apathetic and produce no contributions to the nation.

    Economically, there is great need for realistic strategies to solve the Kingdom’s chronic problems. Mostly, strategic development plans are viewed as exaggerated figures that are announced but the reality is different and what is accomplished is little. The central management approach adopted by the government in our administrative and financial systems should be reconsidered. Regional authorities must be given more authority over their projects and affairs. Such decentralization should reduce bureaucratic inefficiencies and embarrassing responses like the Jeddah rain tragedy – an event which should never occurred in wealthy nation holding 25% of the world’s oil reserves.

    Likewise, our continued overdependence on oil revenue is another important issue that needs to be solved. Relying on the false joy of increasing oil prices and global demand must end. Alternative sources of revenue must be created as soon as possible. Current unemployment, especially among Saudi youth, has become a worrisome issue with failure of Saudization efforts and the apparent absence of any other solution. Housing also represents a serious issue that needs to be addressed as it is unacceptable to see one person owns a land millions of kilometers “through whatever means” whereas the others are struggling to have a very moderate place. Thus, the issue of wealth distribution needs to be addressed seriously for the sake of the political stability and future of the country.

    There is no doubt that the recent measures issued by your Majesty for the benefit of Saudis worth SR 135 billion are welcome, but what the country really needs more than money are meaning reforms addressing all political, social and economical issues. Although Saudis appreciate your generous initiative, the concern is that this may result in a society that is more dependent on the government and less willing or able to rely upon individual initiatives essential to the overall health of the Kingdom. Even if this initiative is followed by changing governmental officials, as we all expect after each crisis, this will not resolve the issue. What all Saudis (especially our youth) really need are opportunities, jobs, hope and real political, economic, and civil reforms promoting the goals of living a decent and productive life and participating in activities that build up Saudi Arabia.

    Our courts must also undergo a major review leading to establishing principles for the respecting law and legal system. This can be achieved by developing effective regulations, promoting accountability and transparency, and combating all aspects of corruption (which is sadly spreaded on an unprecedented way) so citizens can continue to trust the government. Indeed, corruption along with unemployment must be regarded as Public Enemy No. 1 for the country at this time in its history. I hope that Your Majesty’s excellent initiative aimed at developing the Kingdom’s legal system will result in a totally independent institution an d constitutional court which can be – along with formalizing a national constitution- a valuable addition to the judiciary.
    Education needs fundamental strategic solutions for developing a modern education system that is not affected by anyone, especially those who want to the country to continue to live in the past. Philosophy, logic, arts, languages and other modern sciences must be promoted and be part of the curriculum from elementary school on.

    Socially, some serious decisions need to be made concerning Saudi women and young people, particularly with respect to their freedom and personal choices. Women, in particular, must have an equal opportunity and rights that men enjoy. To disregard these issues will not serve the long-term interests of the country and will only cause discontent and compromise public security. The practice of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention is totally unacceptable, not only for a country which is a member of the G-20 but also in the 21st Century. It is now time to abolish this commission in its entirety especially sine its practice is clearly a violation of Human Rights including the 1948 Human Rights Declaration where each individual is entitled to freedom and dignity. Current religious rhetoric is backward and is actually sending the wrong message to the world about our progress. I urge Your Majesty to intervene and take the necessary action to reflect the true and positive picture of Islam and Saudi Arabia and not to allow those who are using religion as a tool to confiscate people’s rights and freedom.

    In light of unprecedented information from the internet and satellite TV channels, it is now impossible to hide what happens in any country. Thus, we need to act proactively rather than defensively to protect our homeland from the political turmoil roiling the Middle East. I am certain that Your Majesty will, as always with your wisdom, enlightened and progressive leadership, and full faith in the Saudi people, make the right decisions for our beloved country.

    Thank you very much for your kind attention and time.
    Sincerely yours,
    Dr. Khalid Alnowaiser
    A Saudi Lawyer [email protected]
    Twitter (kalnowaiser)

  9. the favorite pastime of humanity is to blame somebody else whether it’s a religion, a culture, a political party, a leader…………. Well let me suggest the following. We, in the USA pay market price for ME oil. Do you think that the Western banking system has anything to say about the fact that the oil revenues are not being spent in the countries of origin? or that the ME leaders deposit and control the moneys received as they wish? Have the ME leaders created new sources of revenues to employ their youth and engage in internal commerce? The basic question is what are the Saudi authorities done with their revenues?

  10. Well, In Egypt if a free elections took place, I am pretty sure that The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic parties will make the majority. Same in Tunisia, Islamic parties will have good chances. The west look for their interest in the MENA region and I don’t think they will support the outcome of free elections.
    The younger generation in the Middle East is more attached to their intellectual heritage, even those who were educated in the west. The general scene in the middle east is not represented by those Arabs who have lived their whole life in the west. It represented by people who grew up in the neighborhoods of Wahran, Alexandria, Benghazi, Dammam and Casablanca!
    I truly beleive that every bloc of the middle east had its own analysis, Saudi Arabia is not Tunisia, but Saudi Arabia is not much different from Kuwait .
    The Saudi people know for fact that there is every single Arab country that overthrew their monarchs, had a worse replacement ( Egypt, Libya, Syria).
    King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and his council is more progressed than the majority of the people in Saudi. I mean, if elections to be held for the the parliament in Saudi, powerful tribesmen ( weather they were Islamic or liberal ) and Islamic thinkers will have the majority, just like Kuwait. I believe in the royal Family, The king and Saud Alfaisal and I have good feeling about the Future of Saudi and the GCC countries. I hope for the best for the other Arab nations too, with no foreign involvement, American and British in particular.

  11. *I meant Iraq instead of Syria.

  12. Thank you, AB. I have always liked this, wondering about how things will turn out. I usually shoot for the big, dramatic things, but life for most of us is about the normal, dull routines of daily existence. The big, important things don’t happen every day, or they do, but change is so insignificant and gradual that we don’t see it at first, and it is often beyond our capacity to understand. A fall of Saigon or the Berlin Wall only comes once in our lives, for most of us.

    The events in the Middle East – North Africa and beyond – in the first 2 months of this year have been dramatic. They have certainly been something new to the young populations in the streets and reading the news – and this after decades of repressive, restrictive status quo. It is certainly exhilarating (I know, I have been there, in the streets!). A shared language and culture – Arabic and Islam – make this common sentiment easier and egalitarian – If country A can do it, so can B.

    Anyway. Here goes my guess as to a small but important part of the world will look like on Dec. 31.
    1. Libya. The Mad man and sons will be gone! Libya will have a period of civil war that will be followed by an internal dispute between anti-Gadaffi groups. I don’t see any clear leader or government in place by end of year. Sometimes I wonder if Egypt will step in to calm things down (and maybe grab oil in Eastern region).
    2. Algeria. They have a stronger national identify, thanks to war in 1960s. Present regime will stay, but will increase reforms while at same time repressing certain dissidents.
    3. Tunisia. Same as Libya. Elections, but no clear winners by end of year.
    4. Egypt. Military rule, with a promise of free elections. Laws will be manipulated to ensure certain pro-military parties are in control. Mubarak will leave Egypt by April.
    5. Morocco. This country is different – different culture, different history. I think king will hand on with a few reforms.
    6. Yemen and Somalia. Both of these will continue a mess. No hope for them!
    7. Jordan. One of the most difficult places in a difficult region. The Hussein family has shown talent in balancing conflicting interests. In many ways the Husseins in Jordan and King Mohammed in Morocco face similar challenges. They are moderates but face many external and internal pressures.
    8. Lebanon. Another bad case. Under the thumb of Syria and afflicted by Hamas. It won’t be a good year for the Lebanese.
    9. Saudi Arabia. This is the big one. The Saud family is too powerful, too popular and has too many friends to fall. The Shias in the Eastern provinces (where the oil is) will continue to cause trouble. The protests planned for mid-march should be interesting.
    10. Syria. Unfortunate the little dictator Assad will stay in power and his secret police will continue their abuse.
    11. Iran. The Ayatollahs have a firm grip on power and rule in the name of Islam. That makes it hard for people to kick them out. No good news here.
    12. Iraq. Will continue pretty much as is. Shias killing Sunnis and vice versa, hopefully in smaller numbers.
    13. Afghanistan. Another mess. No big change, just the usual holding actions against the Taliban (which will return and take control as soon as the US leaves).
    14. Israel. No big change. More unpopular than ever as Muslims influence grows.

    Well, that is it. In summary I see no big changes except for Libya. The hope and dreams of the first two months of 2011 will not be translated into reality. Iran will not get the bomb this year. The Sauds will not fall, but unrest will grow. Iran and Syria will continue to support terror.

    The influence of the Muslims brotherhood will grow, but I don’t see them taking power in any country this year. Maybe 2012.

    There will be no winners in 2011 – Not Europe, not the US, not anybody. The price of oil will stabilize around $4 gallon. The whole MENA region will continue to boil as the young dream dreams but cannot make them come true, partly because they don’t understand the fundamentals required for democracy and freedom. North Africa will not become democratic and the minorities in the region will continue to suffer.

    One thing is sure. The rulers of these countries only care about themselves. Yes they will say nice things and talk about reform and democracy, but they only care about power and money, not their people or even their religion. What ever concession they make, they do only because they need to or think a few liberal gesture will take the pressure off. They worst part is that these people – as bad, corrupt and vile as they are, may be replaced by a group that is even worse.

    The next few weeks should be interesting in Saudi Arabia. How will the protests turn out?

  13. @ ay kactuz

    Correction: the oil is not even near Shites areas, oil fields are in the desert in the eastern province, mainly in tribal ares of two eastern saudi tribes, Bni hajer and Bni morrha. Oil fields near Al-Hassa are within areas of the sunni tribe of Bni Khaled ( the former rulers of Al-Hassa )

  14. Saud, Are you sure? Of course, you are ‘saud’ so you should know!

  15. Jay….what? No predictions for little bitty Bahrain??

  16. All i can predict is demand in MSF is going up for physicians and nurses and i pray pray pray that F doesn’t head out there. I think civil war int he makingin most places, or atleast military rul. I’m just not in the mood to sacrifice a spouse to middleeast nad N.african betterment.

    As for gas i think it could hit $5 a gallon – getting used to public transport would be a good thing!!!

  17. why do arabs need kings . Can’t they govern themselves without these parasite dictators , it is now or never in my view , because if the kings are given more time they will prepare and not allow any protests like the saudi dictator did over the weekend. I wonder if previous marches to bow down and PRAISE THE KING WERE ALSO ILLEGAL ?.

  18. Although not looking as far out as 31 December, hereis Robert Fisk’s prediction for 11 March and thereafter which is an interesting read.

  19. What interesting questions! I’l pass by the last one about oil prices.
    KSA has a different structure from all the other countries. I think the main royal structure will endure, maybe some changes that will not affect the monarchy will be implemented, but the monarchy i think will remain intact.
    Libya it seems will take a longer time to balance out to normality as the the tribal structure is more important than who the leader is. If the opposition is able to defeat Qaddafi and his supporting tribe(s), that will be the beginning of a new era for them. However, it seems that foreign intervention will be the outcome there.
    EGYPT: Yes, things are rapidly changing, and people have found the sense of belonging to the country and each other. To Egyptians Egypt is again THEIRS, so the coming elections will be unprecedented in the number of those turning out to vote. Already the people are arresting former security officers in their attempt to burn incriminating documents and handing it over to the army or judicial authorities.
    Yemen will be the real change in the Arabian peninsula and this will be a bloody affair as they also have a tribal structure. I think that the conflict there will be prolonged even after their president is removed. I think it is a very important and neglected part, especially that most of the really prosperous Saudi families, the big ones are originally from Yemen.

  20. Egypt again: The brotherhood there has many followers, they will win a few seats in parliament, but they will not win the presidential elections. They have announced that they would not run for the presidency and they see their role in the opposition and not in the government.
    Zionist Israel will have to deal with the people rule now, not with one person. It is, contrary to the belief of some, unpopular in the middle east regardless of religion, now that the dictatorial regimes has gone, the true sentiment of the people will be unmasked. A bomb does not pick and choose when it falls. It kills all.

  21. little bitty Bahrain?

    Oh yes, all the little bitties of the region – Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman, and so on.

    Bahrain is another hard one. The fuse in the powder keg? There are so many issues: monarch vs people, shia vs sunni, and the Iran vs Saudi.

    I don’t think SA will let the Khalifah family fall. I say there is 51% chance that the Saudis will step in, just to keep Iran out.

    Link to Robert Fisk? where?

  22. Red, what does your crystal ball say? You known the region and people better than I.

  23. Wait, all this is in vain. Guys, we are wasting our time. I have just found out that the world will end April 21 this year.

    Doomsday campers travel the country preaching the Apocalypse…on May 21

    We wont have to worry about Dec 31 after all. So eat, drink and the merry because on April 21 we die.

  24. ‘We wont have to worry about Dec 31 after all. So eat, drink and the merry because on April 21 we die’

    Good to know, I’m ready now anyway :’-(

  25. Salaam Aleikum to my brothers and sisters. Hard to say on what will happen by the end of this year. I believe this is the beginning of a long fight. There is no way the corrupt tyrants from Morocco to the khaleej are going to give up control without any sort of fight. So called reforms will likely be just on paper but not practice. I have trouble believing despots who dwell in city sized palaces, plundering the land’s wealth to amass billions are truly interested in giving up power. Many many people have been arrested or disappeared just for even criticizing them. Not to mention most those countries’ population live in poverty whilst the despots there live in extravagent wealth. Inshallah everything will ge well with the people and their desire for a better future with as little violence as possible. Only Allah knows what will happen before it happens.

  26. @Jay,

    You shorted us an entire month it is May not April. Now I can plan better and stock up on 2 more Kegs. End of the world was a name for an annual party in my college days:)

    Here is a question for you. What of May 21 rolls along and nothing happened. Would the members of the Church think they did not make the cut for the rapture selection?

    Talk about feeling guilty for the rest of your life…

  27. What a downer.

    As to your ‘church’ question, you would have to ask the Jehovah Witnesses, or at least the ones that missed the 1914 rapture. I bet they were really embarrassed.

    Sorry about the 30 so days. Any way, now you have more time to plan the mother of all parties (booze, broads, and all those traditional stuff required for an end of world party). At least we don’t have to wait until 2012 anymore to get started.

    Since I assume you are a guy, I was wondering if there are any lady friends here you would invite. carol and red would be ok, and lynn. On the other side, I doubt if MD and Dr. N would go for the booze and broads thing.

  28. Don’t be so sure what our friends MD and Dr. Nassef might go for. Remember the 9/11 hijackers’ last night with broads and booze.

    Myself, I ain’t so hot for the ‘broads’ but I’m all for the booze.?

  29. Jay with the avatars here every one looks wild and would be party animals. I looked up at the comments above and saw a pink wild avatar, I went yes that is who I should invite. Then I looked to the right and just my bad luck, it turned out to be a dude.

    Sorry Saud, you need to get a better avatar:)

  30. @ Jay :)….
    Afraid that as much as it is enjoyable… you are probably right!

  31. MoQ

    The nice thing about avatars is that they can be anyone they want to be until they hit reality! : ) Perspective is everything.

    Dress up as a woman for a week or so and see how your ‘avatar’ works out for you. Be sure to get back to us and let us know how the female ‘party animal’ version holds up for you here. ROFL I’m sure it would be a lot different than if you tried the same test in the states. Location, location, location.

  32. @New Beginnings,

    I do not know about dressing up like a woman. It won’t do well for my Samurai warrior ambitions.

    However, avatars are really fun to analyse. Just look above, you have Lynn with her muscular angry avatar. The Dr. Nassif with his Scaredy avatar. I am in the middle trying to save the poor guy from the wrath of boozed up Lynn:)

  33. Avatar wars….

  34. I hope the good Dr appreciates you MoQ! LOL
    While it may be true that I am bulgy and angry I didn’t choose my avatar, it was assigned to me. If I had chosen my own it would have looked more like the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland. OFF with their HEADS!!!

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