Principles and policies in Saudi Arabian foreign relations with special reference to the Superpowers and major Arab neighbours
Saudi Arabian foreign policy decisions are made by a small group in private and with little public discussion or explanation. Open debates on issues are not encouraged, particularly those that have a direct relation to the nation's security. No concept of public accountability exists. Secrecy is stressed to ensure internal security, as well as stability in the society. However, foreign policy decisions are not made without considerable thought and time spent in discussing the issues with those the leaders of government believe can make a contribution to their understanding of the problems. The decision-making process has the following four characteristics: 1) There is a strong link between domestic and foreign policies because of the historical legacy of the state. For this reason, decision-making includes members of the royal family and religious establishment. 2) Other groups do participate and wield differing degrees of influence depending on the issue area. 3) Much bargaining occurs before an important decision is announced. 4) The process is slow, as the leaders are not prepared to meet crisis situations. For this reason, the leadership usually turns to outside powers to settle the problem. In addition to the delay in making a decision, there is also the failure to follow through. These characteristics are influenced by the increasing complexity of Saudi Arabia's regional and global environment, and by the growing demand on the country to play a larger role in global politics. The methods used by the government result more in a reactive rather than a pro-active policy. The Saudis are more likely to react to events, panic in crises, and delay making decisions at the time the decisions should be made.