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POLI 341 (39)
Chapter 9

Chapter 9 - Foreign Policy of Saudi Arabia

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McGill University
Political Science
POLI 341
Imad Mansour

Chapter 9 FPMESThe Foreign Policy of Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia is an unconventional power It is military weak compared to its regional neighbours yet it has the largest economy in term of GDP in the Arab world The fundamental goal of Saudi foreign policy is to protect the country from foreign domination and to safeguard the domestic stability of the Al Saud regime Saudi FP is one tool among many to secure the ruling elite and build the Saudi stateHowever the pursuit of these goals is rarely clearcut because Saudi foreign policy must operate on different levels simultaneously 1 The international leveldominated by the Saudi strategic alliance with the US and the Saudi role as an oil powerwhere Saudi Arabia plays a balancing game among larger 2 The Middle East regional leveland more powerful neighborswhere Saudi Arabia asserts a hegemonic role visvis3 The Arabian Peninsula levelYemen and its smaller monarchical neighbors Policies that seem beneficial for the Saudis at one level can present problems for them at other levels Ex their alliance with the US has been of a great benefit militarily and economically but has also exposed them to regional attacks and domestic criticismIt is the management of these contradictions that gives Saudi foreign policy its normally cautious character as the Saudi leadership seeks to reconcile competing pressuresFP determinants The international system Saudi Arabia is integrated into the world economic and strategic system largely through its role as a major world oil power It is the world largest producer and exporter of oil and sits atop onequarter of the known oil reserves Moreover it also has the world most flexible production which allows it to act as swing producer with a unique ability to moderate pricesIts close ties with the US have led some to depict Saudi Arabias role in the international system as one of classical dependence But in fact within the context of this relationship Saudi Arabia has retained a great deal of autonomy thanks to its power on the international oil market Its integration into the world system is therefore better understood in terms of asymmetric interdependence
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