Kuwaiti and Saudi Regimes “Out of Touch” with Political, Economic Realities
Writing in Foreign Policy, Priyanka Motaparthy describes the willingness of the Kuwaiti regime to prioritize stability over freedom of expression. Nasser Abul was arrested in July, accused of crimes against the state, physically abused, and indefinitely imprisoned because of his activity on Twitter. And in addition to the targeting of tweeters, the government has cracked down on political protests. The author concludes that the classification of the Gulf as generally calm, minus Bahrain, is inaccurate and stems from Gulf regimes’ willingness to stamp out the smallest signs of discontent. And in Kuwait, attacks on activists “discredit the government as paranoid, defensive, and woefully out-of-touch with the calls for democratic reform sweeping the region.”
Meanwhile, Robin M. Mills discusses the pending economic crisis in Saudi Arabia. The author outlines the challenge of balancing rising domestic and international spending, growing domestic demand for oil, and the limitations of the world oil market. For example, it is estimated that the government now requires $85 per barrel of oil to balance its budget, and this figure will continue to rise, while it is far from guaranteed that the Saudis can get these prices. While the crisis is not imminent, Mills predicts that without radical reforms, by 2030 the Saudi fiscal position “will be under severe strain,” and the country’s power with OPEC and in the region will be weakened.