ABSTRACT

Chapter 5 examines Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s rather autonomous foreign policy initiatives are quite interesting to observe in the region. Although a member of the non-aligned movement, Saudi Arabia is considered to be pro-West and pro-US in its foreign policy. Trade and economic relations, especially with other oil-producing and consumer states, have been the center of Saudi foreign relations. In the region, Saudi Arabia has been the champion of Sunni religious conservatism (Wahhabism) and its politically aligned groups. Saudi Arabia also presents itself as ‘defender of the region against Iranian (or Shia) influence.’ Both at the interstate level security arrangements such as the Gulf Cooperation Council and by supporting nongovernmental actors such as the Syrian opposition, Saudi Arabia plays a large role in security, politics, and economics of the region. Although Islam is at the center of theocratic Kingdom’s foreign policy rhetoric, our analysis does not find a strong emphasis on sectarianism. Saudi Kingdom has focused on ‘facilitator of Arab solidarity,’ ‘mediator of Islamic world,’ ‘protector of Muslim identity’ and ‘regional protector’ roles.