In recent years, as leading authoritarian countries such as China, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela have become emboldened within the global arena, challenging the liberal international political order, the advanced democracies have retreated rather than responding to this threat.
Taking advantage of broad global respect for regionalism, authoritarian regimes are using their own regional organizations to bolster fellow autocracies. These groupings offer a mechanism for lending legitimacy, redistributing resources, and insulating members from democratic influences.
Saudi Arabia’s vast oil wealth sustains the antidemocratic policies that a nervous royal regime uses to defend against the threats and problems that confront it.
Saudi Arabia looked for a time in early 2011 as if it too would become swept up in the Arab uprising. Yet it never quite happened—why?
Saudi Arabia would seem to exemplify full-blown authoritarianism. Yet there are trends pushing the country toward more open politics.