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From ‘Soft’ to ‘Hard’ to ‘Moderate’: Islam in the Dilemmas of Post-2011 Saudi Foreign Policy

Institut de Recherches et d’Études sur les Mondes Arabes et Musulmans (IREMAM), Aix-Marseille Université, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
Religions 2020, 11(4), 211; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11040211
Received: 8 March 2020 / Revised: 11 April 2020 / Accepted: 13 April 2020 / Published: 22 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and International Relations in the Middle East)
Due to its specific history, Saudi Arabia’s domestic and international politics are inextricably linked together. In the shaping and implementation of the kingdom’s essentially defensive international behavior, Islam has kept a central position as a legitimizing factor and as a tool of ‘soft power’ foreign policy. This paper firstly aims to explore the position that religion holds in the Saudi perceptions of stability in the post-2011 era, where safeguarding the status quo remained the priority, while the new administration responded to external pressure by shifting towards a ‘hard power’ foreign policy with questionable results. Furthermore, the paper explores the links between foreign policy choices and the promotion of a new, modern image for the kingdom whereas the regime has appropriated for itself the notion of ‘moderate Islam’ in order to restore its international image and attract investments for the ‘Vision 2030’ reform program. Finally, it proposes a discussion of the position of Islam in the future direction of the country, amidst an increasing authoritarian rule. View Full-Text
Keywords: Saudi Arabia; Islam; foreign policy; Arab Spring; Gulf; salafism; Iran; Muslim Brotherhood Saudi Arabia; Islam; foreign policy; Arab Spring; Gulf; salafism; Iran; Muslim Brotherhood
MDPI and ACS Style

Athanasoulia, S. From ‘Soft’ to ‘Hard’ to ‘Moderate’: Islam in the Dilemmas of Post-2011 Saudi Foreign Policy. Religions 2020, 11, 211.

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