By Kamran Bokhari
Saudi Arabia is the weakest of the Middle East’s four major powers – Turkey, Israel and Iran being the other three – given its fragile economy and relative lack of military power projection capabilities. Nonetheless, the kingdom has had to assume the responsibility for Arab collective security in light of the shift in U.S. strategy for the region and the post-Arab Spring regional chaos. Unable to fulfill this role on its own, Riyadh has been trying to form a coalition of the willing. Such a strategy is unlikely to work given that most of those who have signed on don’t have much to offer, while those who matter, such as Turkey, have their own competing visions for regional security.
Creating an Appearance of Military Strength
Ten days ago, the military exercise codenamed Raad al-Shamal (Northern Thunder) kicked off in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have billed it as the largest ever war game in the Middle East, claiming that 150,000 troops from 19 countri