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Saudi Arabia in the International Spotlights

Paul Aarts

Saudi Arabia is in the international spotlights for its alleged support to Islamic State and other jihadi groups in Syria and its bad human-rights record.
The  Saudi royal family has survived the events of the Arab Spring intact and unscathed. Any upheavals were ostensibly averted with the help of oil revenues, while the Kingdom’s influential clergy conveniently declared all forms of protest to be against Islam. Does this mean that all is well, knowing that problems such as youth unemployment, corruption and repression are evident? While young Saudis may not yet be taking to the streets, on Twitter and Facebook their discontent is manifest. 
In the meantime, the country is in the international spotlights for its alleged support to Islamic State and other jihadi groups in Syria, its brutal military campaign in Yemen, and last but not least its bad human-rights record. How to understand its domestic and foreign policies? How to deal with Saudi Arabia? Is there an alternative to ‘business as usual’?

Paul Aarts was senior lecturer in international relations at the University of Amsterdam. His research focuses on the politics of the Arab world, with a specific focus on the Gulf countries. Among his recent publications: Saudi Arabia. A Kingdom in Peril (Saoedi-Arabië. De revolutie die nog moet komen, with Carolien Roelants), Hurst 2015. 

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