THE IMPLODING HOUSE OF SAUD Part I
30 September 2014
In a series of short articles, the rise and current dilemma of the Al-Saud legacy will be very briefly exposed from an angle that focuses on the trilateral relationship between the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Islamic fundamentalists. These articles are meant to shed some light on this subject in an attempt to make it easier for non-Arabs in particular to relate to the history of this triangle, how it was formed, shaped and how it reshaped itself over the last few decades and how it ended up where it is right now.
It is hoped that some myths will be dispelled and that readers will be better able to understand the complexity and unpredictability of today’s events.
The Rise of the Al-Saud Reign:
During his rise to power, the founder of house of Saud, King Abdul-Aziz (father of current King Abdallah) realized that he would find himself in a better position of power if he established a strategic alliance with the Wahhabis in his fight against his rivals Al Rashid.
The Wahhabis had a very strict version of Islam which many in Arabia then regarded as orthodox and puritan, and to be on their side was a badge of approval and endorsement and a reflection of religious piety. Moreover, Abdul-Aziz also needed the numbers because he only had a small army of 200 men of his own, and his ambitions went far beyond retaking Riyadh (his ancestral capital) that was taken from his family by their rivals; Al-Rashid. He wanted to be the ultimate ruler of the whole of Arabia.
After his success and ability to unite the regions of Najd and Hijaz and renaming the new kingdom after his family line; The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), with the discovery of oil in 1938, Abdul-Aziz grew more dependent on Wahhabis to keep his hold on power. In return, he had to bribe them with power and the mandate to run the Saudi streets as they saw fit, and they did. As a result, the Wahhabis imposed very strict laws such as forcing businesses to close their doors to business during prayer time and forbidding women from driving cars. But behind the public scene, the royal family used the Wahhabi clergy to get the religious Fatwas, ie mandate to rule and issue decrees that suited their agendas; all in the name of and under the guise of strict Islam.
Whilst the house of Saud held the actual government positions of power, that power was underpinned by the Wahhabi clergy. When the Wahhabi clergy wanted to send missionaries to spread its version of Islam outside the Saudi kingdom, the royals had to comply willingly or otherwise, and when the “infidel” Communist Soviets invaded Afghanistan, the disciples of Wahhabi Islam, both Saudis and non-Saudis, were charged, equipped and trained to go and fight.
The Saudi-Bin Laden-American Honeymoon:
It was at this stage that America first realized that it could use those Jihadi enthusiasts as pawns thereby capitalizing on the enemy of their enemy. That was Brzezinski’s idea, and he thought it was a brilliant plot because he did not know what he was dealing with and the danger of the monster that he was helping to grow.
The oil wealth was heaven-sent to Al-Saud, but with it came a huge amount of corruption and news of debauched behaviour of royals both at home and overseas. Many Saudi youths were growing furious with the royals and regarded them as a moral scourge, an embarrassment and as money embezzlers. Once again, the royals held to their guns by offering more bribes of power to the Wahhabi clergy, including more funds for their missionaries and military training camps.
With the Soviet takeover of Afghanistan, the Saudi royals found in Osama Bin Laden, a Saudi of Yemeni origin, an excellent recruit. The man had the religious drive and motivation, funds if he needed to personally dig into his own pocket, and above all, he was an excellent speaker and motivator.
The Americans knew the Bin Laden family quite well and the Bush family in particular had strong business relationships and friendships with the Bin Ladens. When the Saudi royals introduced Osama Bin Laden to the Americans as a war ally, the former neither liked nor trusted the latter from day one. In his eyes, they were the infidels who are, by divine decree, not to be trusted. Bin Laden however accepted to join hands with the Americans for he too wanted to get the best of the enemy of his enemy. After all, he had a mission and his prime objective was to get the Soviets out of Afghanistan.
For some to actually believe that the friendship and collaboration between America, Saudi Arabia and the Jihadists has always been totally and entirely under American control and direction is far from being accurate. This trilateral relationship has been subjected to many ups and downs and neither party trusted or liked the other. It was always am uneasy loveless marriage of convenience in pursuit of common goals.
In more ways than one, the marriage was successful and perhaps its biggest “achievement” has been the ability to raise an army of Jihadists that was big enough and tough enough to eventually lead to Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. That said, it must also be remembered that the Soviet Union was on its last leg and its fighting spirit and ability made it much easier for its foes to defeat it.
But this was about to change very soon. Later developments have proven without a shadow of doubt that the trilateral alliance of the Americans, Saudis and the Jihadists was very fragile and one that was subject to constant flux.
In the subsequent chapters, we shall examine the major changes over the last three decades and the unfolding of events leading up to the recent developments in Iraq and Syria.