DIVERSIONARY DISCOURSE: A HISTORICAL COMPARISON OF SAUDI INTERVENTIONS IN YEMEN
This project seeks to explain the aggressive turn in Saudi Arabia's foreign policy after 2011, most drastically exemplified through its 2015 military intervention into Yemen. It does so through a two-case historical comparison between the Saudi interventions in Yemen in 1962 and 2015. Additionally, it compares the nature of internal regime survival strategies within the kingdom during these two distinct time periods of regional revolutionary upheaval: the Nasserist period of the late 1950s to
... the late 1950s to 1960s and the time during and after the Arab uprisings in 2011. It makes the argument that, despite comparable internal and external threats in each time period, Saudi foreign policy is more openly aggressive in the contemporary period as a function of the regime's ontologically weakened ideological legitimation. Whereas the Nasserist period offered an ontologically distinct threat in the form of a rival state ideology (secular Arab nationalism) that could be strategically co-opted and repressed by the Saudi regime, the Arab uprisings embodied a broader threat. This has included movements that have combined variations of both Islamism and liberal constitutionalism to challenge authoritarianism in the region. It has ultimately been threatening in part because of an ontological similarity to the regime's own historic use of Islamic legitimacy. Thus, unlike the mediated Saudi approach to the Nasserist threat, the Saudi regime today has opportunistically engaged in an exaggerated aggression abroad as well as more deliberate, open displays of domestic repression at home.