Currently, various internal and external threats and concerns will influence Saudi Arabia’s geopolitics. These will be discussed fully in this paper. Resources such as oil and the political setups will adversely affect the geopolitical future of various countries in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia’s oil represents close to one third of the global oil produced. Oil is a major resource in Saudi Arabia and it is heavily linked to its geopolitical future. Over dependence of oil in running the country’s political as well as social affairs is a risk. Majority of the population are so poor in the country and the government is promising them a higher standard of living in exchange for their obedience. However, the government will not be in a position to provide the standard if oil dries up or the world market is in turmoil. Advocates of oil-based development argue that countries lucky enough to possess “black gold” can major their growth on this resource. They show the possible advantages of enhanced economic development, poverty eradication, the realization of technology, job creation, augmented government revenues, the enhancement of infrastructure and the stimulation of related industries. However, the opposites is almost true, the familiarity of almost all oil-producing countries up to now illustrates hardly any of these benefits.
On the contrary, the growth of oil-led development is likely to be negative, comprising of slower than anticipated development, obstacles to economic freedom, poor social interests performance, and elevated levels of poverty, disparity, and unemployment. In addition, countries reliant on oil as their main resource for growth are typified extremely poor governance and overboard levels of corruption, a civilization of rent-seeking, frequently devastating financial, health and ecological consequences at the lowest level, frequent occurrences of conflict and war. In total, countries that rely on oil for their source of revenue finally become among the financially challenged, the most dictatorial, and the most conflict-ravaged in the globe (El-Gamal & Jaffe, 2009).
Oil is a resource with special features. These include: 1. Its exclusive role as both ordinary natural legacy of a country and the engine of global industrial, 2. Its exhaustibility, 3. Its volatile price and resultant boom-bust cycles, 4. Its particularly high capital-concentration and technological complexity, 5. Its commune nature, and 6. The outstanding generation of gains that accumulate to the state and private firms. The mixture of these features results in what has been referred to as “paradox of plenty” or the “resource curse.” It is not as a result of the resource itself, but because of its different features (El-Gamal & Jaffe, 2009).
Saudi Arabia being one of the biggest exporter of oil, is an unstable nation. Its citizens are extremely poor and the country is marred with internal and external conflicts. The oil itself adversely influences the geopolitical future of Saudi Arabia. The shift world prices of oil will directly influence the political environment in Saudi Arabia. Likewise to the living standards of its citizens. This will eventually lead to political uprising internally as well the surrounding environment. Saudi Arabia being an underdeveloped country has weaker administrative institutions, which in turn tend to have a likelihood of an exceptionally high resource curse.
Saudi Arabia is a prime target for the Arab Awakening. Saudi Arabia is a closed society with uneven wealth distribution, a huge and varied group, or self-conscious minorities residing within artificial boundaries, a society seasoned with Islamist (extremist) sympathies and conflicting Sunni vs. Shia groups. Furthermore, the royal family is experiencing a disaster of leadership in relation to line of succession and prospect of the royal line (Grina, 2011).
The people of Saudi Arabia seek a more diplomatic government and political reorganization. Therefore, several disgruntled, but not yet oppositional, groups have come out, while the royal family struggles to up-keep their legality and their rule. The king has issued various social wellbeing reorganization packages and has used close to 36 billion on pay increases, housing allowance, unemployment reimbursement, and pledged subsidies in a by now overpoweringly welfare state. The Arab Spring will significantly influence the geopolitical future of Saudi Arabia. This will be made worse by the condition of the already politically charged environment. People will push for further reform according the present revolutionary wave of demonstration and protests taking place in the Arab world. The Arab Spring has shared practices of civil resistance in continued movements involving protests, strikes, marches as well rallies. The use of social media is a function to organize, exchange information, and enlighten people in the face of state efforts to repression and internet censorship. Saudi Arabia is not left of the Arab Spring (Grina, 2011).
Inside Saudi Arabia, women and the young people of Saudi Arabia have been progressively more outspoken about their wish for political reorganizations and social change. Currently, they have been faced with financial developments, however little in the manner any real social or political freedom. There have even been reports and conspiracy theories that the empire is clandestinely offering money to extremist factions to delay change.
There have been questions whether the line of succession will put an end to police crackdowns or continue. Will this worsen the uprising or completely stop it for the time being? Repressed minorities, consisting of migrant laborers and the Shia minority are exceptionally important in connection to Saudi Arabia’s regional associations, as well as links to terrorist factions like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Al Qaeda.
Externally, Iran and the contest for hegemony and supremacy, will influence Saudi Arabia’s geopolitical future of Saudi Arabia. The Shiite authority and supposed ties to Hamas and Hezbollah are viewed as actual threats to the Saudi government. Furthermore, any and all well-known uprisings in the area, especially in Bahrain and Yemen are also a threat to Saudi Arabia politics. The part played by America’s association to Saudi Arabia and the upcoming of the Arab Spring within Saudi regions is yet to be witnessed. At the moment, it seems like America desires to maintain the geostrategic status quo. It is not known for how long this will exist.
Additionally, Saudi Arabia has an overwhelming police presence and the authorities has recently been using money and concentrated efforts to silence protestors and rebels of the government. The crown has gone further to come up with new press laws and penalties for political militants that are viewed as threatening. Several, as high as thousands, are believed to be captured custody as political prisoners are (Karl, 2009).
The geopolitical future of Saudi Arabia is feared to be on the rough waters. This is because, as an authoritarian government that is not fast on political and social reorganization, Saudi Arabia has reservation for the legitimacy and steadiness of the monarchy being under scrutiny as the Arab Spring open up in the region. Primarily the conduct thus far has been a kind of no protests will be tolerated in a nearby kingdom as it can function to destabilize the domestic state of affairs.
The study of the above two topics of influence of oil and Arab Spring, helps in realizing the causes and the consequences of unrest in most parts of the Middle East and in particular Saudi Arabia. The unstable global prices and the fact that it is referred to as a resource curse or paradox of plenty, contributes to uprising worst conflicts in Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, Arab Spring also contributes hugely to awakening of the people in most parts of the middle east and particular Saudi Arabia. This enlightening of the people in the face authoritarian regimes leads to mass protest, conflicts, wars as well as strikes. The people tend to be more outspoken and fear nothing unlike in the past where oppressions were witnessed in most parts. This study seeks to unearth the reason why most oil-rich countries, especially Middle East, experience the worst economic developments, high unemployment rates and poor infrastructure (Karl, 2009).
Mineral and particularly oil-led development is normally elevated as an important path for countries looking for sustained economic development. However, the oil-inspired development model of today is considerably different from the role that the energy sector played around 19th and 20th centuries. Geopolitical environment was much favored by the boom in world prices at that time (Karl, 2009). Currently and in the near future, the global prices will be volatile, and will adversely affect the geopolitical future of most parts of the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia. In the past, oil and minerals were never the main stimulus for economic or social development. However, now Saudi Arabia is grossly dependent on the oil-based economy. In contrast, the factor of Arab Spring slowly taking its place in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is not left out.
In conclusion, oil representing one third of the global oil production will adversely affect its geopolitical future. This will happen when its oil reserves starts to diminish. The global oil prices will directly affect the living standards promised the regime of Saudi Arabia. These factors will have significance in the already charged geopolitical situation in the Middle East. This will eventually lead to political unrest internally as well the surrounding environment as the significance in geopolitics.