England Beats Iran as Protests are Shunned in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has defied an escalating movement of popular dissent, announcing that it will not allow its oil-rich country, home to the world’s largest population of Shiites, to be used as a rallying point for protests demanding greater rights and freedom.
Saudi Arabia was the most prominent supporter of the Arab uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, and a vocal critic of the Saudi government, but it has since been quiet.
By refusing to join the anti-government protests in Bahrain and Yemen, and also against Iran in the Arab Spring, the kingdom has also kept itself out of the news.
“The main reasons,” a Saudi diplomat recently told Reuters, “are that we have no influence on Bahrain, we have no influence on Yemen and we have no influence on Iran.”
The diplomat cited economic development and development of tourism as reasons for Saudi Arabia’s relative inaction, and the kingdom’s efforts to woo the West.
The ambassador to Washington, Prince Seeh bin Hamad, said the kingdom was “shunned” by the demonstrations against Saudi Arabia’s government after a series of Saudi nationals were killed in the latest violence.
“There is no news from the kingdom,” he told the Financial Times, adding that no “foreign ministry spokesman has issued any press statement since Friday.”
“I think they have been very clever and I think they have been very smart and they were very careful not to make any statement.”
But he continued, “Saudi Arabia is very concerned, but they don’t want to be part of the solution, they don’t want to be part of the problem. They can’t be part of the problem, they can’t be part of the solution.”
Prince Seeh has been in Washington since Jan. 16, the first of a six-day tour, to discuss security issues with US Senator John Kerry and to meet with leaders in Washington, London, Brussels, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
He has also met with the head of the UN refugee agency, Antonio Guterres,