Middle East uprisings: Saudi Arabia flexes its muscles

A decade after the fire and fury of 9/11, bin Laden’s death came at a time when he was probably further than ever from achieving his goals. The interests of Washington and Riyadh are more closely intertwined than at any time since the hijackings, and the Arab Spring represents a rejection of everything bin Laden lived and fought for.

The peaceful demonstration is the antithesis of Al-Qaeda’s philosophy of violence: street protests have succeeded where suicide bombers failed, and autocratic regimes have been toppled by demands for democracy, not the reestablishment of a caliphate.

And yet, while bin Laden’s execution represented a glorious coup for US President Barack Obama, it will have been no more than a momentary distraction for Saudi’s King Abdullah.

For Saudi’s ruling family the real threat lies in the Arab Spring, the transformation of the Middle East which has alarmed them to the extent that they are now doing whatever they can to help bring the uprisings to an end. Washington may have called the shots on Middle East regime change in the first decade of the new millennium, but Riyadh is running the show in 2011. Read more

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