Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2022

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Croft Institute for International Studies

First Advisor

Steven Schaaf

Second Advisor

Ashleen Williams

Third Advisor

Ian Gowan

Relational Format



Saudi Arabia has long been considered a religious, political, and economic hub of the Middle East and North Africa as the home of the two holiest cities in Islam: Mecca and Medina. The kingdom’s leaders, the Al Saud family, have relied on their Islamic clout to remain in power since the 1700s, but their Islamic credentials were called into question following their allowance of American troops on Saudi soil and alliance with Western ideals during and following the Gulf War of the 1990s. Islamist outrage against the throne poured out across the nation, bringing demands for political change and increased popular control. While this wave of opposition was met with some repressive tactics alongside co-optation and acceptance of demands, the later wave of reformist opposition during the Arab Spring era of the 2010s was met with staunch repression that silenced all forms of resistance.

This thesis seeks to answer why repression was more effective during the 2010s than in the 1990s, arguing that in-group fragmentation and social prestige had direct impacts on repression outcomes following the two movements. Using Saudi laws and policies, opposition memorandums and communiques, and official religious rulings (fatwas) from the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars, this thesis analyzes the tactics used by the Saudi government to quell its vocal reformist opposition and what made each tactic successful or unsuccessful in ending dissent.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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