Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Foreign Affair

Have moved out to the east side of the kingdom in an effort to find a different perspective on developments of late. Assessments of the differences of opinion within the family largely follow assumptions found elsewhere as to the usual suspects opposing the assumed urge for domestic political change emanating from the very top. However, when looking at affairs outside the kingdom’s borders, views alter from those that tend to be found in the capital. A sojourn on the east-side can see starker views on what is motivating policy among different key policy actors. An essentially consensual decision-making model motivated by the desire to project the kingdom’s Arabism without antagonising Iran whilst rigorously policing those in the family who over step the policy mark is a common explanation in the capital. Eastwards, one also hears that there is a consensus behind policy, however one based on more sinister machinations, apparently designed to re-export radicalism in advance of sectarian aims, partly in a bid to contain Iran and, in the process, some say, Egypt, which supposedly motivates the Saudi projection of strength in the Gulf. Around this, senior figures are apparently united. A brief Saudi flirtation with Palestinian unity is acknowledged in the capital and its eastern detractors as having been genuine. However both see little scope for any bold renewed effort to once again oversee national unity efforts in an ill-fated land for which most Saudis in the capital have little patience and those eastward have little knowledge. These views, if right, essentially leave the leadership watching and waiting, lacking any substantive vision, and preoccupied with subterranean tactical positioning in neighbouring disputes rather than any real desire to contribute to a way to resolve them.

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