“And spend of your substance in the cause of Allah, and make not your own hands contribute to your destruction; but do good; for Allah loves those who do good.”—Qur’an, 2:195
But the spider that sits at the centre—politically; geographically; morally—of this Middle Eastern web that is a vortex of enmity and warfare—is the Saud family, their on-going absolute control of Arabia and the severe Wahabi branch of Islam they espouse. The fact that Wahabis are still a minority is ignored. The fact that the religious extremism of their clerics has spawned extremist terrorists is denied. The denial that the ruling Crown Prince Muhammad bin Saud (a.k.a. MBS) had anything to do with the virtual kidnapping of Lebanese premier Harare, or condoned killing and dismembering journalist Khashoggi by a 15-man hit squad inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey fails all standards of credibility.
It is undoubtedly true that the Saudis would like nothing better than their domination of a peaceful Middle East. But, despite all their money and unquestioned backing of the USA, they have made a pig’s ear of it so far. They are running a cold war with most of their neighbours, especially Iran and even with tiny Qatar, whose free-speech Al Jazeera broadcast network drives than crazy.
This on-going instability helps no-one, except insurgents, like Al Quaeda. But neither the regime, nor its US backers seem ready to admit the extent to which insurgents derive from Saudi Arabia and its fearsome Wahabi cleric-driven religion. Almost all of the plotters behind 9/11 turned out to be Saudi. By far the largest contingent of foreign fighters captured by NATO forces in Afghanistan and sent to Guantanamo for questioning, were Saudi. The immature autocracy practiced by MBS is alienating many in the ruling family. The 40% of the population who are Shia are tired of neglect. The 8 million foreign workers resent being treated like slaves. The Saudis rely on them and almost a million Western technicians to run the country’s infrastructure. But unrest may drive enough away to curtail cheap petrol, water and other ways to keep those outside the blessed 15,000 quiet.
Though they may wish for peace and stability, the Saudi royal family are riding the Wahabi tiger. Its strict Islam may not directly preach unrest, let alone terrorism. But that has been the growing effect, one that neither the kingdom, nor its US patrons admit to. This wilful blindness means more than overlooking MBS’ clumsy actions and blaming Iran for all Arab terrorism. It means admitting that 9/11 and similar random acts of terrorism can be laid indirectly at the door of the Saudi royal family who have unwittingly spawned a generation of jihadists by the manner in which they have led their country since its inception.
“I want a better Saudi Arabia. I don’t see myself as an opposition. I’m not calling for the overthrow of the regime, because I know it’s not possible and is too risky, and there is no one to overthrow the regime. I’m just calling for reform of the regime.”—Jamal Khashoggi.
(end of 4-part article)