Hvor alvorlig er situasjonen i Saudi-Arabia? Er det selve fundamentet som rører på seg, eller er det overflatekrusninger? Det er ille. Det står om statens overlevelse, slår den eminente forskeren Mai Yamani fast i en engasjert artikkel i Guardian.

Long before the latest violence erupted, Saudi Arabia’s immaculately suited spokesmen were out on the stump, telling anyone who would listen that the situation in the country was completely under control. They’re now doing it again – only this time nobody believes them.
All the signs suggest that in the face of mounting violence and international pressure, the House of Saud has sunk into terminal denial and paralysis. Convinced that their enemies are all around them, they are nevertheless unable to locate them. Even when gunmen are totally surrounded in a building, three of them succeed in escaping. Last year the aged King Fahd threatened militants with his «iron fist», but they have gone on killing regardless. While the princes have insisted reforms are in progress, they continue to fling reformists themselves into jail – and intimidate others into keeping quiet. The government 2_kommentartains its oil installations are completely safe from attack – and yet high-level oil analysts insist the Saudi security forces which guard them are infiltrated by extremists.

Such contradictions suggest that very little is currently under control in the Saudi kingdom.

While expatriates consider whether to depart en masse, reports from the Gulf say that staff members of one of the more entrepreneurial princes have asked officials in Dubai to find them living space. They might well be re-locating in the near future.

Det ville være galt å konkludere med at kongedømmets dager er talte. Men Saudi-Arabias posisjon er sterkt svekket. Etter at USA rykket inn i Irak, har ikke lenger de andre mindre Golf-statene behov for Saudi som en sikkerhetsgarant. Selv har de kommet mye lenger med reformer. Kuwait ga nylig kvinner stemmerett.

It is now known that a number of those Gulf rulers have been lining up to tell the Saudis that reform is their only chance of survival, and that it may already be too late. But even those princes who accept that notion – such as Crown Prince Abdullah – no longer appear to hold sway in the cabinet.

Problemet med Saudi er at de er stuck. De vet hverken ut eller inn. Har ingen plan, greier ikke bli enig om noe som helst.

In any case, the Saudi state has become such a cauldron of hatreds and divisions – many now highlighted by the war in Iraq – that reforms favouring one group would almost certainly be rejected by another.

Det er hva vi har trodd hele tiden, og den dagen finansmarkedene forstår dette, kan dagens turbulens på oljemarkedet fortone seg som krusninger.

Washington will prop up the House of Saud – for now

Saudi Arabia has descended into a cauldron of hatreds and divisions

Mai Yamani
Saturday June 5, 2004
The Guardian

· Dr Mai Yamani is an associate fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs and author of Cradle of Islam: the Hijazi Quest for an Arabian Identity, published next month by IB Tauris