The death of King Abdullah in January 2015 confirmed the contradictions at work in Saudi politics. The architect of Abdullah's destructive policies, President of the Royal Court Khalid al-Tuwaijri, was immediately dismissed. Tuwaijri was the key player in foreign intrigues--to subvert the Egyptian revolution, to send in the troops to crush the uprising in Bahrain, to finance ISIL in Syria in the early stages of the civil war along his previous 'ally' Prince Bandar bin Sultan.
The entire focus of Abdullah's foreign policy after 2011 was to stop the Arab spring in its tracks in Tunisia and Egypt, bribe their leaders with Saudi billions, and crush all forces capable of mounting an effective opposition in the Gulf States. Everything else, including the rise of Saudi's foremost regional rival Iran, became subservient to that paramount aim to crush democratic political Islam.
The Yemen plan backfired when Islah refused the bait to take up arms to resist the Houthi advance. As a result, the Houthis took more control than they were expected to, and Yemen now looks like Syria in reverse. Al-Qaeda's claim to be the only fighters prepared to defend Sunni tribesmen, has just been given a major boost.
Obsession with Iran
What they fear is the example the Iranians provide. Their relevance to the Muslim world, despite the Shia-Sunni differences, continues to grow. The thought of a 'Shia crescent' terrifies the Saudis, not because it means war or some apocalypse, but because it would lead to a stable Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. Did I hear you mention Pakistan? It too would also be revealed as irrelevant to the region's peace if Iran were let back in the fold.
When the US figures this out, the days of the Saudi dictatorship/ monarchy will be numbered. Iran will take its place as the more reliable, sensible--Islamic--state in the region, the only state not afraid of genuine democracy.
The Shia revolution in Iran had echoes in the Sunni world from the start in 1979. It inspired a young Egyptian Muslim Brother, Essam el-Erian (now imprisoned Freedom and Justice Party vice-chairman and MP), to say at that time, "Young people believe Islam is the solution to the ills in society after the failure of western democracy, socialism and communism to address the political and socio-economic difficulties." It prompted Saudi rebels to occupy the Kaaba that same year in an attempt to spark revolution, Syrian Islamists to rise against their secular dictator Hafez al-Assad in 1980, and future al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri to conspire to assassinate Egyptian president Sadat in 1981.
Pakistan adds its two cents
Most of the terrorists (those implicated in the 9/11 hijackings, the foreign fighters in Afghanistan in the 1980s and now in Syria/ Iraq) were/are understandably disaffected Saudis, rich on oil wealth, educated at western universities (or unemployed), yet disgusted by the Saudi alliance with imperialism (and by implication, with Israel) that was blessed by the Wahhabi establishment--so-called neo-Wahhabis. They found allies in their Pakistani brothers, betrayed, first, at 'independence' when the British handed Muslim Kashmir over to India, and then again when Reagan declared 'victory' over the Evil (Soviet) Empire in 1990 and decided they were really terrorists after all.
CIA analysts coined a term for this type of counterproductive outcome resulting from attempts to manipulate political developments--"blowback"--in its internal analysis of its own orchestration of the 1953 coup in Iran, warning of future anti-Americanism as a result of the coup. The neo-Wahhabis provide another, even more serious instance of blowback, where the revolutionaries, angry with Muslim official complicity with imperialism, started using strategies of revolution and the arms of the imperialists against both the US and their own leaders and peoples.
Egypt was a ray of hope
Like the Iranians, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood tried hard to square the circle with the Saudis but Saudi chauvinism trumps belief. The willingness of the Saudis to sacrifice thousands of Egyptian Muslims is shocking, though not out of character. Remember the1979 seige of Mecca by French Special Forces, who killed hundreds, possible some of the same 'Spetsnaz' who are murdering Muslims on the streets of France today.