Discussing the future safety of the Saudi Kingdom we should look at the political, social and geographical circumstances which constitute this one of the top oil producers in the world.
The Saudi Kingdom was established on the 23 September 1932 and since then it has been governed by the Saudi family who united most of the Arab tribes living in the Arabic Peninsula and defeating Ibn Rashid dynasty thanks to the British support. That is why the country is called the Saudi Arabia or the Saudi Kingdom. Today, the country is governed by the King Salman bin Abdulzziz being also the Custodian of the Two Holly Mosques since 23 January 2015. He is also the head of the Unitary Islamic Absolute Monarchy. He is going to be succeeded by the Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef who is the Minister of Interior and the Second Deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. There is also the Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman who is also the Minister of Defence and the Second Deputy Prime Minister who can probably also claim the rights to the throne as the prince who has also became the most powerful prince in the region.
The estimate GDP of the country for 2015 is 1,668 trillion USD with the population of 30,770,375 people. In comparison the estimate GDP of China for 2015 is 18,976 trillion USD with the population of 1,376,049,000 people. Comparing those two powerful countries we can say that Saudi Arabia looks like the riches country in the world. At the first glance the wealth of Saudi Arabia seems to guarantee the prosperity of citizens and the security of the country. However the decrease in the oil prices can have a significant influence on destabilizing the country constituted by united tribes thanks to the Saudi family political skills and knowledge.
However there are some weaknesses of the political situation in Saudi Arabia. Those flaws are rooted in the global political situation not only on the Arabian Peninsula. Moreover we should remember about the tribal divisions and the decreasing oil prices whereas the country economy is strongly oil-based. Those three factors:
- Local and global political situation
- Oil prices
- Tribal divisions
are likely to push Saudi economy into a big trap finishing with collapse of that kingdom.
Mark Twain said that the lack of money is the root of all evil. That quote can be clearly seen when we discuss the oil crisis and the global politics. The oil crisis is a straight way to deepen the tribal divisions which can result in the collapse of the tribal confederation under the flag of the Saudi Dynasty. Talking about tribes we should note that there are hundreds of tribes and merchant families who are influential and constituting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Since the establishment of Saudi Arabia the most powerful tribes were: the Anayzah, Bani Khalid, Harb, Al Murrah, Mutayr, Qahtan, Shammar, and Utaiba. It should be also remembered that before the establishment of the Saudi Kingodom, clans fought each other and the stronger and the more powerful was always the one to be followed. Those clans found the protection of the Saudi Family being supported by the British and American governments. The creation and the existence of Saudi Arabia is based on the loyalty of the clans to the royal family not to the country. Tribal loyalty and belonging are very deeply rooted in the minds of Arabs living there. Therefore the political influence is determined by the tribal relations and connections. Tribal sheikhs can influence political and business affairs on the local and national arena. Following that thought, the money from oil export has always been the guarantee of the Royal Family stability and strong position among the tribes. Furthermore the leading role of Saudi Arabia in oil exports give the Royal Family the leading position among the governors of the gulf states. However the drastically dropping prices of oil cause the loses in the GDP of Arab States. The International Monetary Fund estimates that the revenues of Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies will slip by $300 billion this year. Some sources say that the price of oil should be above 100 USD per barrel to be above the brake even point for the Saudi Government whereas the forecasts predict the prices dropping down to 20 USD per barrel.
Coming economic crisis and major four political opponents:
- Sunny Islam activists
- liberal critics
- Shiite minority
- tribal and regional opponents for instance in Hejaz
threaten the stability of the country. The most dangerous group is constituted by the Islamic Activists responsible for the terrorist attacks in the country.
After the King Salam of Saudi Arabia cessation the rivalry for the throne is going to start. The country being the absolute monarchy doesn`t allow any other social or political forces to influence the country`s national and international policies. Weakened monarchy may leave a space for the tribal and sectarian divisions which can activate and reflect the Libya scenario during the Arab Spring. We should remember that Libya had an absolute dictatorship for 42 years under the regime of the colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who led the coup against the 17th year old monarchy of King Idris. And the Arab Spring caused the collapse of the Gaddafi regime on 23 October 2011.
Saudi Arabia like Libya has the tribal system. There was no revolt in Saudi Arabia for over 80 years. Looking at the history and one of the samples like Libya, the situation in the region can be picturised like a pot full of boiling water, covered with a lid compressing the steam. The open question is how long the royal had is able to hold that lid.