The regional religious and ethnic clashes in and around the Arabian peninsula risk tearing it apart.
The Saudi execution of dissident Shia cleric Nimr Baqr al-Nimr drew a warning from senior Iranian cleric Ahmad Khatami that Saudi ultraconservative Wahhabi rule is doomed.
Analyst Theodore Karasik told our correspondent Rita del Prete in Dubai this could lead to the end of an era.
Karasik, the Director of Research and Development at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA), said: “There are warnings and indicators that Saudi Arabia is in the midst of an implosion, not only politically, with infighting among senior princes, but also in the economic field. We are seeing in the Saudi economy the inability for the state to provide for everyone. Money is fleeing Saudi Arabia because of the unstable situation there.”
Russia, a tactical ally of Iran, has offered to mediate in the conflict between Riyadh and Tehran. Both Russia and Iran are supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, while the Saudis support anti-Assad forces.
Karasik said: “The big winner in the Saudi action against Iran is Russia and President Putin. Why? Because Russia will be able to maintain its example as a negotiator as well as a power that projects itself in a positive way unlike Europe and the United States. This type of Russian power, this “machismo”, echoes very well with some Arab states.”
According to Karasik, opponents of Saudi power as well as Moscow would welcome a carving up of the territory similar to what came out of the collapse of the Soviet Union—if not an outright breakup.
The munificent kingdom has long resisted reforms.
Karasik said: “The reforms that Saudi Arabia has announced in the last few weeks are almost word for word what Mikhail Gorbachev tried to do in the end days of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev tried to reform the Soviet Union without changing the very basis of the society which was the role of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). In Saudi Arabia today they are talking about how to reform the Saudi system without changing the foundations of the Saudi state, which is based on Wahhabism."