Saudi King Abdullah today announced an additional multi-billion dollar spate of new social spending as part of what is a growing effort to placate popular unrest in the nation, which is facing massive unemployment.
But while the efforts have mostly been centered around spending increases, with the occasional mass arrest in Shi’ite parts of the nation, it does not seem that is his only move. Rather, King Abdullah warned during the announcement that security forces would “hit” anyone the government believes is undermining stability.
The police deployments and threats have kept the public protests out of all but the Shi’ite dominated districts of the country, but the unrest seems to be growing. Even though the increased spending may have some short term impact, other examples suggest that if the main grievances aren’t addressed, they won’t simply vanish.
The prospect of using violence against the protest seems to have gained some momentum after its use in Libya, and Saudi Arabia likely feels its ties with the West are more secure than the Gadhafi regime’s is, making it more able to get away with such measures. Whether they are successful in the long-run, however, remains to be seen.