What do you do with $60 billion? This is the budget surplus for Saudi Arabia in 2011. Will there be more “redistribution” as there was in the spring? Certainly this is what those I have spoken to are hoping for…with a hint of mockery in their voices. Of course, the danger of last year’s pay out is that, if it is not repeated, discontentment may spread.
However, this doesn’t seem likely in 2012, as the Guardian points out: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/feedarticle/10012326. F.Gregory Gause also recently concurred, saying that in the short term the Saudis will have plenty of money to deflect social and political pressures. But one day, the well will run dry. What then?
Well, as Gause goes on to demonstrate, the security and patronage networks – which are intertwined – are two of the key reasons why opposition is not forthcoming. In Jeddah, so far, I have been slightly disappointed that I have not seen national security in action, although perhaps this demonstrates it’s strength. I can’t personally comment on patronage or the “use” of the religious establishment in quelling discontent, but it’s worth reading Gause here: http://www.cfr.org/saudi-arabia/saudi-arabia-new-middle-east/p26663.