How Secure Is Current Saudi Government? – With US High Tech Arms Deal, It’s Critical to Know

Posted on September 18, 2010

Arabian Peninsula

One has only to look at a map of the Arabian Peninsula to see that the Saudi Kingdom is geographically in a tenuous situation.  Saudi Security forces having kicked al Qaeda out of the country in May 2003, the exiles joined al Qaeda in Yemen and in 2008 formally combined into an organization they call al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  And now their tactics are changing.  They are not content to attack westerners alone.  Now suicide bombers have attempted the assassinations of Saudi officials.[alShorfa]

The Saudi authorities on several occasions over the past two years announced the dismantling of many networks linked to what the Saudi government calls “The deviant group”, in reference to al-Qaeda. This shows a continuous effort by AQAP to rebuild its cells in the Kingdom; an effort constantly thwarted by security forces each time a cell was built.

For that, al-Shihri’s new call for toppling the Saudi regime comes within the same context: a repeated attempt to rebuild AQAP cells in Saudi Arabia.


The successes of Saudi security forces over the past years suggest that al-Qaeda’s chances of carrying out significant attacks are low under the current circumstances. However, the Saudi security forces are likely aware that all that AQAP needs is a single person who adopts its ideas and who wants to serve its project. [alShorfa]

Internally watchful and steeled against a rising Iranian power, the Saudis have made the largest US arms purchase in history.  The number and level of sophistication of the weapons caused alarm in Israel.  As a consequence, many of the high-tech bells and whistles were removed from some of the equipment.

But the nagging feeling persists:  What if the Saudi Kingdom falls?  We will have this arsenal pointed at us, Israel, Jordan and other friendly Arab states.  It is a dilemma that the Obama Administration has weighed.  Coupled with the need to reinvigorate US manufacture and keep it competitive, was there really any other option?

Lest you think this is the last of the US government trade initiatives in Saudi Arabia, here is the announcement from the Federal Register of plans for 2011:

The United States Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service (CS) is organizing an Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) trade mission to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, April 2-5, 2011. Led by a senior Department of Commerce official, the mission to Saudi Arabia is intended to include representatives from a variety of U.S. ICT industry suppliers and service providers. This trade mission will introduce suppliers of information technology (IT) and communication products and services to potential buyers and allow them to explore new business opportunities. Participating in an official U.S. industry delegation, rather than traveling to Saudi Arabia independently, will enhance the companies’ ability to secure meetings with potential buyers, distributors, partners and industry officials in Saudi Arabia. The mission will include appointments, briefings and a networking reception in Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s primary ICT hubs. [Read the remainder of the announcement here.]

The US may be pulling back from Iraq but building up strong defenses in Saudi Arabia by proxy.