“Saudi Arabia is pursuing a combination of domestic and regional policies that risk destabilizing
the Persian Gulf and that risk undermining the United States interests there. Amid calls for political change, Saudi Arabia is failing to address pressing concerns about its political system and the need for political reform. Instead of responding favorably to calls for more political openness, the Kingdom is pursuing a risky domestic agenda, which ignores the social, economic, and political grievances that might fuel popular mobilization. Saudi Arabia’s military intervention into Bahrain has escalated sectarian tensions in the Gulf. The crackdown in Bahrain is not only provoking Iran and creating the conditions for a regional crisis, but it is also creating new opportunities for Iran to expand its sphere of influence. The United States has reasons to maintain a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia. It also has the leverage to encourage the Kingdom to refrain from escalating tensions in the Gulf and further inflaming sectarian anxieties………” USIP
It is true: the al-Saud brothers, like the al-Khalifa clan, have used sectarian divisions effectively. They have created a poisonous atmosphere of divisions on the Gulf unseen in modern times. In that task they have had help from their Salafi followers. That is how despots and absolute tribal Arab monarchs stay in power, by dividing the people: Sunni vs. Shi’a, Muslim vs. Christian (not many Jews left in the region). They have even managed to carry their sectarian poison to Lebanon where there are actually Salafis allied with their man Saad Hariri around Tripoli. They are still trying disruptions in Iraq.
They are also trapping the United States into an odd position: there are many people now in the Gulf region who believe that the U.S government is behind the divisive sectarian campaign of the al-Saud and al-Khalifa.