The Middle East at a Crossroads: The Eurasian Rising Powers are Redrawing the Global Landscape

On October 5, 2017, King Salman met with President Putin to the surprise of many observers who speculated about this historic visit. According to some analysts, it is a shift towards Russia at the expense of the US where the focus is on talks about the on-going oil crisis and the Syrian and Yemeni conflicts. These speculations are understandable since one of the US’ most reliable Arab allies is meeting the “enemy” on its turf. Such a visit holds a particular significance. What does it mean for the Middle East and the Eurasian rising powers? To answer this question, let’s first have a look at the Saudi situation. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is on shaky grounds both domestically and internationally. Indeed, the Al Saud-Wahhabi alliance is under considerable strain, torn between openness and conservatism due to different factors. The oil crisis has magnified the rift and has shed light on the fragility of the Saudi economy that relies heavily on its oil royalties (70% of the government’s revenue according to World Population Review). In addition to this over-reliance on external revenue sources, the unemployment rate is on the rise (12.1% at the end of 2016 as reported by Forbes). The unemployment rate is especially high among the younger generation (33.5% in 2015 according to Arabian Business); a generation that is globally connected despite the government’s efforts to censor the Internet by different means (the KSA scored 72 out of 100 -100 meaning that it is not free at … Continue reading The Middle East at a Crossroads: The Eurasian Rising Powers are Redrawing the Global Landscape