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March 18, 2011


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Well, I'm not sure about Bahrain, but a lot of the KSA's military kit is American. Granted, it's a nuclear option, but the U.S. can always gently remind the Saudis how long all of those nifty M1A1s, F-15s, etc. would last without the necessary maintenance parts. Heck, it worked with Egypt.

It worked in Egypt but the parallel doesn't hold. First, the Egyptian military was a separate force from the government. The Saudis have done a lot to insure that isn't the case in that country. Second, the Egyptian military didn't feel that the protestors posed an existential threat; the Saudi leadership feels differently about the situation in Bahrain.

So I'm not sure that it would work against the Saudis. The Bahrainis on their own, possibly --- as long as you could convince the monarchy that constutionalism did not mean death --- but not Riyadh.

One of the things I've noticed about Yglesias and Klein is that as they've gotten older they've become less prone to heterodoxy on certain points as they move toward being fixtures of The Village.

I doubt we could really coerce the Saudis back out, even over material for their nifty US kit. The Egyptian military is much larger than the Saudi military, and politically close to, but independent from, the state. The Saudi military is designed with an eye towards the military coups of the 1950's. Further, the Saudis can threaten the price of oil, which the Egyptians could not.

Beyond economic and material leverage, it's pretty clear that the Saudis view situations in which Arab Shi'a gain political agency to be an existential threat (which is why Saudi money backs Sunnin insurgents in Iraq and why they bombed North Yemen at various points). So getting the Saudis to get out would be really hard. If the Bahraini PM could be isolated with his clique, I'm sure the US swing reform, but as long as he's free and in power, he's a serious problem

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