The Saudis Are Still Mysterious
, Amr Hamzawy nicely sums up
the debate over the future of Saudi Arabia: "The arguments bounce back and forth. Democratic transformation is inevitable given the rise of an educated urban middle class that is increasingly open.... But that same middle class, say detractors, has repeatedly shown how conservative it remains in its thinking. Resistance to demands for political and civil rights cannot withstand the relentlessness of outside pressure. But in the light of successive rises in oil prices, the West has few cards it can play against the Saudi royal family. And on it goes." As he notes, few people over here understand Saudi Arabia—certainly not enough to make any more than the wildest of guesses as to whether, for instance, the ruling elite actually wants to liberalize the country or not—and we could do with better analyses. Hamzawy's is nice start.