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King Abdullah returns & doles out the cash 24, February 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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2 comments

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has returned to the Kingdom from a long period of convalescence in America. Three days of holiday have been announced to celebrate this auspicious occasion. Additionally, he has sizably increased the benefits for Saudi citizens including a 15% pay raise for lower paid workers all of which will cost some $36 billion.

I see this increase in benefits more in a Kuwait than a Bahrain model. This is to say both of these states recently increased benefits for their citizens. Kuwait did this as it was the anniversary of independence from Iraq and from the British. Bahrain did this in a desperate ploy to try to placate swathes of their citizens in a Middle East rife with revolutionary sentiment. I imagine that the Saudi King might have been tempted to do give out some cash even had Egypt and Tunisia’s regimes not fallen, though I would guess that he has increased the amounts in light of said events.

Though only fools make predictions, all I would say is that the only reason that Saudi need fear to any great degree is on the death of Abdullah. If it comes soon – he is a frail, recovering octogenarian after all – then aside the inevitable hullabaloo over Sultan being overlooked (which he would be; eventually) Naif’s reaction could be critical. If he stays true ‘to form’ then he may react harshly or at best, firmly, against any demonstrating elements. This, I fear, could then be a catalyst for wider demonstrations and – at the worse case scenario – prompt a serious challenge from another power centre in the Kingdom.

Hat tip: JK

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