With protests roiling his neighbors, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is grabbing the initiative. The ailing king returned home on Tuesday after months abroad for medical treatment and announced a $35 billion aid package for citizens. The oil-rich nation hasn’t seen massive demonstrations like Tunisia, Egypt, or Libya, but Sunni-Shiite tensions in next-door neighbor Bahrain have some analysts wondering whether the authoritarian regime could be next. Abdullah’s package—which include housing and unemployment aid and cash to compensate for inflation—is intended to get out ahead of any calls for democratic reforms. But some Saudis are already bashing the proposal, saying they want meaningful political change, not handouts.
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