Trends in Saudi National Security

By Kechichian, Joseph A. | The Middle East Journal, Spring 1999 | Go to article overview

Trends in Saudi National Security


Kechichian, Joseph A., The Middle East Journal


In the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, Saudi Arabia reassessed its national security policy, increasingly relying on its nascent military power. Even if Iraq was militarily weakened, Saudi Arabia perceived Baghdad as a long-term regional hegemon. Likewise, the recent thawing in Saudi-Iranian relations notwithstanding, Riyadh remained wary of revolutionary Iran. Finally, the perennial Yemeni threat was re-awakened with a vengeance, potentially engulfing both countries in a disastrous confrontation. Against these threats, Riyadh shouldered new security responsibilities, as its military role in the Gulf region evolved.

Flowing the 1991 coalition victory over Saddam Husayn's Iraq, Saudi Arabia emerged as an important new power in the Persian Gulf region, capable of influencing security affairs for the balance of the century. As a direct consequence of its decision to host an estimated 700,000 foreign troops, and its participation in the 1991 Gulf War, Riyadh stiffened its back and shelved its cherished non-interventionist policies of the past. By standing up to Saddam Husayn, Saudi Arabia became, at least in modern political jargon, a real and substantial power. Still, the kind of power that Saudi Arabia held brought with it responsibilities, as well as challenges.'

With the end of the Gulf War, Riyadh and its conservative partners participated in postmortem discussions, had a substantial say in settlement debates to determine Iraq's future, and contemplated a full-scale militarization of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. By early 1999, it was clear that a victorious Saudi Arabia could not favorably entertain a discussion of arms control (over weapons of mass destruction) in the region, when Iran-and to a certain extent Iraq-were involved in deploying such weapons. Saudi Arabia was also concerned by the Israeli nuclear threat to the entire Middle East, which, at least for the foreseeable future, was likely to influence its own acquisition decisions. Under the circumstances, Riyadh could not foreclose the possibility of acquiring non-conventional weapons. On the contrary, the Al Sa'ud (the ruling family) were arguing, and will probably continue to insist, that their support of the UN-sponsored, Western-led, anti-Saddam Husayn coalition placed them in a strategic bind, leaving them to defend themselves as best they could. Consequently, the Al Sa'ud contended that the need to defend the Kingdom from regional hegemons had not abated. Moreover, Saudi rulers insisted that their concerns included-in addition to Iran and Iraq-Yemen, an increasingly important country in light of its unification, newly discovered oil wealth and re-stated penchant for Arab nationalist policies. Finally, Riyadh devoted a great deal of attention to internal security, to quell potential challenges. How the Al Sa'ud perceived regional threats was key to understanding recent trends in the military, including implications for Riyadh's key Western ally, the United States.

REGIONAL SOURCES OF THREAT

For decades, the chief regional threat to Saudi Arabia was from secular, socialist Arab nationalism, supported by the Soviet Union. In the 1960s, Nasserism dominated the Arab world's political discourse, resulting in a split between conservatives and radicals. For Egypt at that time, of course, Saudi Arabia was the most prominent conservative Arab adversary. By the end of the 1980s, the threat of Arab radicalism had receded, but Riyadh was very much concerned by the festering Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Still, threats within the Gulf region preoccupied it even more. Iran, Iraq, and Yemen posed immediate threats to the Al Sa'ud throughout the 1990s, and are likely to challenge Saudi Arabia in the future as well.

The Islamic Republic Of Iran

Saudi Arabia displayed a keen perception of the challenge posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran when the Shah was overthrown. Beginning in 1979, Riyadh perceived Tehran as a destabilizing force in the Gulf region, primarily because of Iran's repeated attempts to export its revolution. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Trends in Saudi National Security
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.