Protests Planned in Saudi Arabia

Is Saudi Arabia next? Activists have scheduled protests for March 11 and 20, and security forces are keeping an eye on their activity. Last month, police cracked down on two protests in Jeddah, arresting dozens in one case and preemptively taking positions in the street in the other. In an attempt to appease the activists, King Abdullah gave away $37 billion in wage increases and other benefits last week, but it appears not to have satisfied the protesters, whose key demand is elections to the Shura Assembly. The next step is a long-anticipated cabinet reshuffle. "If it turns out to be just cosmetic," says Mahmoud Sabbagh, a newspaper columnist, "then my analysis is that reformers will regroup and escalate."