THE IMPLODING HOUSE OF SAUD. Part VI.
By Ghassan Kadi
5 October 2014
This is the final chapter in this series of short articles. Very briefly, the history of the House of Saud was exposed from its inception till this moment in time. The story is not over yet as history is still in the making.
The main focus here has been on the trilateral relationship between Al-Saud, the USA and the Jihadis. The 3 parties are highly linked, but unlike what many believe, they are not at all identical and should not be regarded as a triangle that always operates under the unconditional command of the Whitehouse. If anything, this latter perspective does not only end in misunderstanding the current situation, but also diverts attention from the real issues and how to address them.
It is hoped that some myths have been dispelled and that reader is now better able to understand the complexity and unpredictability of today’s events.
The Saudi Dilemma:
Let us rewind a bit and remind ourselves how the House of Saud came to power.
Al-Saud rode on the back of fundamentalist Wahhabi Islam. They claimed to be the only state of puritan Islam regarding states that do not enforce Islamic regulations in every single day-to-day affair and aspect to be heretic.
They forced women to cover up, banned them from driving, banned them from education until King Faisal revoked this decision to the dismay of many clerics. They established the “Jamieat Al-Amr Bi-Almaarouf”, which is primarily a consortium of hardline clerics (Moutawein, ie reformers) that roam the streets carrying canes literally lashing people and coercing them to go to prayer, lashing women if they see any visible skin and the men who accompany for allowing them to show skin. The Moutawein were given great power. No one would dare oppose them or stand up to them. They had the free mandate to cane anyone in any public forum for any reason they see fit. Even attempting to run away from their cane was an offence, a serious punishable offence.
Saudi Arabia banned alcohol. Caned Muslims if found drinking and deported non-Muslims if caught. A country without a real judicial system, the testimony of two men accusing a third of adultery was enough reason to have him beheaded without a trial.
All of such atrocities, and many others, were conducted in the name of Islam, and Al-Saud reveled in being the protectors and defenders of this form of Islam which does not tolerate any leniency at all.
Whenever the royal family ran into any political dilemma, it went and sought counsel (Fatwa) from its head Mufti and abided by his advice, all for the sake of upholding real Islam; so they claimed.
Any popular dissent within Saudi Arabia was quickly and harshly dealt with under the Sharia-approved legitimacy of the Fatwas. When the perpetrators were caught, they were described as enemies of Islam, heretics and beheaded, all with the approval and blessing of the Wahhabi clergy. Al-Saud made it look like they were under the direction of the clergy and that they were the executors not the decision makers.
When the Wahhabis established their Madsaras overseas and their brand of Islam became more and more accepted in the entire Muslim World as well as the West in areas of high Muslim density, Al-Saud found in this a great advantage to their throne. The reason being the fact that initially, the Wahhabi version was highly unacceptable in the Muslim World to the extent that it was ridiculed. Saudi Arabia felt threatened to find itself surrounded by moderate secular states, even though Sunni Islam is the predominant religion of their population.
Radicalization whirpooled Saudi Arabia into deeper radicalization.
When the War on Syria started, the Saudis were finally capitalizing on the efforts of the last few decades of radicalizing their own population as well as Muslims outside their kingdom. In the eyes of many, this was Al-Saud’s moment to walk the talk.
Al-Saud were hoping the Bandar’s failures would need lead to the Jihadists declaring divorce. But when the Jihadists went a step further and established a Khilafet (Islamic state in which the ruler, Khalif, is considered as the successor of Prophet Mohamad), Al-Saud knew well that there is no Khilafet without the control of Mecca. The declaration of Khilafet was tantamount to declaring war on Al-Saud and their throne.
Several Youtube videos pictured unknown Jihadi fighters threatening Saudi Arabia and Gulf states. These threats were not to be taken lightly.
Domestically, Jihadists have a huge amount of Saudi support; especially amongst the new generation of educated youths. After all, it was the funds and direction of their government that has created that drive for radicalization.
When Al-Saud realized that the Jihadist have declared divorce and war on their throne, they had two options; either to sit back and face the inevitable outcome or fight them.
If they took for the first option, they would most likely lose their throne. The time and opportunity for negotiating with the Jihadists had expired. On the other hand, the royals were not in a position to conjure up a Fatwa that legitimized killing Muslim fighters that have only been following the direction of Wahhabi teachings.
This was a lose-lose moment for Al-Saud. They must have pondered in length and depth about what to do next, but finally they decided to join the US-led coalition to attack the Jihadis in Iraq and Syria.
Whichever way those raids go and develop into within Syria and Iraq, they have started an avalanche of events within Saudi Arabia. Back in 1991, it was bad enough for America to invite the “Crusader Infidels” and allow them to put their boots on the ground for Bin Laden to declare war on the royals. Now, more than twenty years later, Al-Saud are actively engaged in killing Jihadi fighters along with the “Crusader Infidels”. This will not be forgiven or taken lightly.
Dissent within Saudi Arabia has never been stronger. The royals have committed an act of treason against Islam; the foundation on which their legacy and the whole kingdom is underpinned. They have crossed the line that cannot be crossed and they will not be able to find or buy any justification that will be widely accepted.
Lines are now getting drawn within Saudi Arabia between supporters of Al-Saud and fundamentalists. The Jihadis, and ISIS in particular have a huge Saudi popular support base. There are rumours about similar support within the armed forces.
No one really knows what percentage of Saudis are in favour of ISIS as against those in favour of the royals. Figures of 50-50 have been estimated by some. In the absence of proper opinion polls, no one can be certain how the Saudi population is divided, and how this division is finding its way into the power hierarchy.
How will this pan out at the end? No one knows. The Saudi royals would wish that it would go away, but it won’t. Three years ago, they were poised at creating a regime change in Syria. To even imagine that this is still on their agenda is quite laughable indeed when they have their own necks on the chopping board.
Three years ago, Al-Saud wanted to create a Civil War in Syria. For a while, they did create a huge war on Syria, but they failed in turning it into a Civil War. At this moment in time, it is highly likely that the only Civil War that they will manage to create, is the one that will burn their own throne.