The Arab Spring represents a set of challenges the likes of which have not been seen in the Arab world for a half century or more. Shifts underway in the Levant and North Africa have a profound effect on perceptions of governance in the Gulf, and those shifts are a potential source of threat to the GCC states’ stability. In response, Qatar has been active, building on confidence in its domestic support and its conviction that it has nothing to fear from actors like the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi Arabia has been considerably more cautious, reflecting its own diverse internal politics and the leadership’s distrust of sweeping change. Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia seek to use their wealth as an instrument of their foreign policy, shaping the external environment in order to secure their internal one. So far, they are succeeding.
About the Author
Bernard Haykel is professor of Near Eastern studies and director of the Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia at Princeton University. He also directs the university’s Oil, Energy and the Middle East Project. He was previously professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern history at New York University. His present research and writing focuses on the history and politics of Islamism in the Arabian peninsula, and he has a forthcoming book on the history of the Wahhabi movement in Saudi Arabia from the 1950s to the present. He is also co-editor of Complexity and Change in Saudi Arabia (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2013). Dr. Haykel holds a doctorate in Islamic Studies from Oxford University.