Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia is using its political clout and financial power to draw regional allies into a united front against perceived threats from Iran and popular discontent with Arab autocrats.
Saudi rulers, alarmed by shifts in US policy in response to the toppling of long-time ally Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and protests roiling Bahrain, Oman and Yemen in the kingdom's own Gulf backyard, are vigorously pushing back.
"Saudi Arabia is using its excess budget wealth to silence the revolutions or shape their outcomes," said London-based Saudi researcher and author Madawi al-Rasheed.
Riyadh has pledged $4 billion in aid to Egypt, throwing a lifeline to new rulers struggling with the economic impact of the anti-Mubarak unrest. It was also instrumental in a $20 billion handout to Bahrain and Oman for job-creating projects. Saudi Arabia shares US fears that Iran wants nuclear arms.