Islamist militancy in Saudi Arabia and Yemen ebbs and flows, but it is a recurring phenomenon that has underlying regional, political, and cultural determinants. Successes against specific terrorist threats are negated in the long term by the failure of these countries to undertake political and institutional reforms that might undermine existing elite alignments and challenge entrenched interests. This article investigates the key fighting groups in these countries, their motivation for engaging in violence, the methods by which they recruit and activate militants, and the environments in which further radicalization may occur. While Islamist militancy potentially threatens the entire Gulf region, Saudi Arabia and Yemen are pivotal states that deserve an in-depth look because of their ongoing troubles with radical Islamism. Each of these countries has Sunni extremists associated with Jihadi Salafism and the Al Qaeda transnational movement, a Sunni-Shiite fault line that has produced sectarian earthquakes in the recent past, and a double-edged relationship with the United States – their alliance brings security and financial assistance, but also public disapproval and charges of collaboration with infidels. Radical Islamists in Saudi Arabia and Yemen face serious obstacles to mass mobilization, but Yemen appears to be more vulnerable to Islamist violence than Saudi Arabia in the next decade.
Hafez, Mohammed. 2008. "Radicalization in the Persian Gulf: Assessing the Potential of Islamist Militancy in Saudi Arabia and Yemen." Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict (July): 1-19. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17467580802034000#preview