The limits of largesse

This article from al-Monitor provides the current score in the Great Game between Iran and Saudi Arabia. If you’re a supporter of Western interests, it doesn’t make for fun reading:

Saudi Arabia is losing influence throughout the Fertile Crescent to its rival Iran. While Riyadh’s position versus Tehran has been in decline for some time, the trend is accelerating.

The Saudis have many things going against them, most of which I outlined in this post last year. 

They are in a losing battle for Sunni hearts and minds because they don’t provide a pragmatic option. That is, the Saudi model is one of Wahhabi Islamism, but they are out-Islamicised by pretty much everyone on the Sunni Islamist continuum. So if the Saudis want to win hearts and minds, they have to offer something else. To date, they’ve offered largesse, which is good for a while, but it has its limits. An alternative – one which would ultimately be good for Saudis – is increasing individual rights and official accountability. But these would likely bring down the regime. It’s a dilemma for Wrsyern policy makers. 


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