Published as part of the Princeton University Series on the Middle East in January 2015, just before the accession of King Salman, The Saudi Kingdom presents a candid and insightful analysis of Saudi Arabia’s political instability in light of the mounting domestic and international challenges facing the country up to that date. Directly addressing Saudi Arabia’s inert monarchical ruling system, its foundational alliance with the Wahhabi establishment, and its increasingly dangerous environment populated with a diverse set of enemies, Ali Shihabi, a political analyst close to ruling circles, looks at the prospects for the survival of this opaque monarchy and suggests ideas for reform that may help it better withstand the turbulent winds of change. The book explores the history of modern Arabia, the Wahhabi ulema, the jihadi threat, the anger of today’s youth, the mystique of state power, and most importantly the Iranian threat to the Saudi state’s stability.
First published in 2012 (and now in the process of being updated), this work of fiction analyzes the two most dangerous political fault lines running across the Middle East: the Arabian/Israeli-Iranian conflict and the Palestinian-Israeli struggle.
In Arabian War Games, the author proposes, through the use of fiction, a scenario where these issues all come to a head in a perfect storm.
It is the year 20XX, and the regime in Iran, by then nearly choking to death under sanctions, attempts to cut the noose around its neck by invading Arabia in collusion with its ally Iraq. At the same time, Israeli elites, increasingly obsessed with preserving their Jewish majority and visualizing the Jewish state as slowly drowning in a sea of Arabs, conclude that the time has come to forcibly expel their rapidly growing Palestinian minority into Jordan. The United States, fatigued by Middle East wars, confused by Iraq’s collusion with Iran, overwhelmed by the resultant collapse of global financial markets, and impotent in front of a determined Israel, helplessly watches events play out.
Eschewing the tendency of professional predictors to avoid forecasting the outlandish, Shihabi explores these potential scenarios in a granular fashion, paying particular attention to the mind-set and thinking of the ruling elites who are driving these events.
Far from mere sensationalism, Arabian War Games is a careful analysis of the stress points currently at play in the region. Not only does Shihabi dissect these fault lines and their possible outcomes with incisiveness, but he also proposes alternative, creative solutions in the hopes that such scenarios can be avoided.