This article is from the July 2004 edition of Socialist Voice
House of Saud rocked by attacks
SAUDI ARABIA has been rocked by assassinations, terrorist attacks and gun battles in the streets as Al Qaeda attempts to overthrow the House of Saud, the Saudi Royal family. The US and Britain are desperately trying to convince 30,000 of their citizens who work in Saudi to remain in order to stop the collapse of the country's oil industry which would have disastrous consequences for the world economy.
By Stephen Boyd
The beheadings of Paul Johnson, Kim Sun-il and the assassination of Abdulaziz al-Muqrin, the alleged leader of Al Qaeda in Saudi has raised the prospect of an exodus of foreign workers. 8.8 million of Saudi Arabia's 22 million population are foreign immigrant workers, 100,000 are Westerners.
Yet the Saudi regime helped create the monster of Al Qaeda which now threatens its very existence. The Saudi Ambassador to Britain Prince Turki al Faisal while head of Saudi intelligence helped support Al Qaeda, Turki has admitted to meeting Osama Bin Laden five times. Al Qaeda is the creation of Saudi intelligence and the CIA during their war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. A UN report estimated that in the 10 years leading up to September 11th wealthy Saudi Arabians transferred over $500 million to Al Qaeda via Islamic charities.
Since the 1930s the Saudi royal family have promoted Wahhabism, the most extreme and fundamentalist form of Islam, based on violence and hatred of non-Muslims and other Muslim traditions. Since the oil boom of the 1970s the promotion of Wahhabism has been a fundamental part of Saudi foreign policy using a large amount of its vast oil wealth. This foreign policy has been a reflection of its own imposition of Sharia law in the feudal kingdom.
Historicaly Wahhabism has been violently opposed to Sufi and Shia muslims and was viewed by, most Muslims as an extreme sect. The Saudis now dominate 95% of Arabic language media; 80% of mosques in the US are controlled by Wahhabi imans. The Saudis fund Wahhabi and Salafi schools mostly in Afghanistan, Kurdistan and Pakistan. In Pakistan there are 6,607 of these madrasas (schools) mostly built by Saudi funds. It is in these madrasas that the Taliban and Al Qaeda were trained.
Imperialism in the West has turned a blind eye to the Saudis involvement in the funding and training of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, because of its dependence on them for oil and arms sales, and because at one point both the Taliban and the forces which became Al Qaeda where used as tools by the US in its Cold War against the USSR.
In order to protect the Saudi regime the Bush regime blacked out 28 pages of a Congressional report that documented Saudi government ties to those involved in the September 11th attacks. The US ignores the Saudis human rights abuses, and in reality Bush and Blair have and will continue to do everything they can to shore up this rotten feudal dictatorship.
Saudi Arabia is a caldron of discontent with divisions exasperated by the occupation of Iraq. The majority of Saudi Arabia's population have seen their standard of living collapse over the last 20 years. GDP per capita has fallen from $18,000 per year in the early 1980s to $7,000 today. More than half the population are young, and with economic growth falling to keep pace with the rising population, unemployment among Saudi males is around 30%. Immigrants from the Phillippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia make up about 25% of the workforce and risk deportation if they speak out against their conditions.
There are no democratic freedoms in Saudi, no judicial system, no political parties, no trade unions, no elections, no independent media and women have no rights at all. Arrests, detentions without trial, torture and executions are commonplace. It is these social and political conditions combined with an increase in national, religious and ethnic tensions and the war and occupation of Iraq which have led to the current crisis in Saudi Arabia.
The Asir region is viewed by many as partly Yemeni. The Hijazis see themselves as a separate nationality. The Shias who have been impoverished by discrimination feel empowered by the Shia advances in Iraq. A civil war in Iraq would spread into Saudi Arabia fuelling the Shias desire for more power and control over the oil presently owned by the minority Saudi Wahhabis.
If the current fundamentalist Saudi regime is overthrown and replaced by an even more extreme Islamic fundamentalist government hostile to the West then US Imperialism will face an oil crisis of momumental proportions and possibly the deepest world recession in the history of capitalism, with some analysts predicting it would result in $100 a barrel for oil!
The current events in Saudi Arabia are a result of decades of support from the US for a corrupt royal family who have lived in obscene wealth at the expense of ordinary Saudis, who helped to create Al Qaeda and the "disease" of Wahhabi Islamic fundamantalism.
As Malcolm X said on hearing of the assassination of John F Kennedy, for US and British imperialism the events unfolding now in Saudi Arabia are "the chickens coming home to roost".