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Pascal Menoret

Renée and Lester Crown Professor of Modern Middle East Studies at the Crown Center and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Brandeis University. He is the author of The Saudi Enigma: A History (2005) and of Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Road Revolt (2014).



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Repression and Protest in Saudi Arabia

Pascal Menoret
Middle East Brief 101, August 2016


For decades, the Saudi monarchy has propagated the notion that they are the only rampart against Islamism inside the country. This idea has become axiomatic internationally, and many analyses of Saudi Arabia have solely focused on the salience of the royal family. In this Brief, Pascal Menoret challenges conventional understandings of Saudi politics and reveals a very different picture. The Brief examines six movements that have attempted to organize and protest in Saudi Arabia: the Sunni Islamist movement, the Association for Political and Civil Rights, the Shiite Islamist movement, the anti-corruption movement, the anti-repression movement, and the labor movement. Although these movements lack institutional resources, they mobilize people to challenge state policies. Menoret explains why some mobilizations were successful while others failed, and assesses the contribution of these movements to the future of Saudi politics. The Brief concludes by stating that, in the absence of political reform and with the decline in state spending, repression will remain a staple of the Saudi political system, making the future of Saudi politics bleaker than ever.

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