Saudi Islamists and the Arab Spring
Kuwait Programme on Development, Governance and Globalisation in the Gulf States
Londres : London School of Economics and Political Science
Kuwait Programme on Development, Governance and Globalisation in the Gulf States : 36
The Arab Spring has had little visible impact on Saudi Arabia, except in the Eastern Province, where relatively large Shia protests were met with deadly repression. However, it would be a mistake to think that the revolutionary events taking place in the Arab world did not spur debate in the remaining segments of Saudi society. Sunni Islamists were at the forefront of the debate, as they saw ‘comrades’ of the same ideological orientation participating in revolutions and seizing power throughout the region. Most of them agreed that Saudi Arabia needed change, although they would quickly disagree on the nature and the extent of it. Still, a significant rapprochement took place in 2011 and 2012 between Islamists of all backgrounds and non-Islamist political activists around the issue of political reform and the fate of political prisoners. Yet this was short-lived. By 2012, fundamental disagreements on social issues were pulling Islamists and liberals apart, as had been the case since the 1990s. Political dissent remained, but on a smaller scale. This did not stop the Saudi government from taking drastic measures against the Kingdom’s Islamists, especially after the summer of 2013.