The Ruling Family Remains Poised

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For almost a century, Kool-Aid experts on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia saw little more than gloom and doom, imminent collapse of the ruling family, social backwardness and economic failure.  Generations of such “watchers” lusted for disaster, even if what occurred was nothing more that “wear-and-tear,” as the conservative monarchy went from rags to riches.

In 2016, some are yearning for catastrophe and will be disappointed if the monarchy is not toppled, pontificating that transformative efforts will ensure that outcome.  Quotations from Alexis de Tocqueville are generously invoked, especially conclusions that the most dangerous moments for an absolute monarch came when it delves in reforms, oblivious to the very nature of the Saudi system.  Others point to the fragilities associated with succession concerns and, naturally, the struggle for power that any winnowing creates.  The list is long but tangential, because conditions are not abysmal as they are often made out to be, and while dangerous developments preoccupied leaders, the vast majority of the population backed the Al Saud family.

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