Saturday, June 07, 2008

Saudi Arabia: The Arrogant Kingdom

Unlike some of the other countries that Scott Powell has lectured on in his Islamist Entanglement series, Saudi Arabia was never occupied by Western Powers. While it did face threats from the Ottoman empire, the West was content to let the Saudis rule in Arabia, as long as access to oil was provided. The Saudis had their own agenda. Born of an alliance between Wahabi Islamist elements and the leaders of the Saudi tribe based in the center of the Arabian peninsula (an area referred to as Nejd), the Saudis managed, after two unsuccessful attempts, to establish control over the remaining parts of the country. This success was subsequently guaranteed when, following the discovery of oil in Dhamman in 1938, then American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt met with the Saudi King Ibn Saud in 1945 and guaranteed the Kingdom's security. The effective result here was a kind of feudal arrangement between the United States and the Saudis, where the Saudis were supposed to play the role of feudal vassal to the US overlords. However, a problem here is that a few years years later the United States supported the creation of the State of Israel and recognized it upon its declaration of independence. As effective vassals one would expect the Saudis to join the US in supporting Israel. However, as Arabs and Muslims unwilling to accept a non-Arab, non-Muslim entity in the region, this was not possible to them. Inevitably this lead the Saudis to oppose the US whenever it supported Israel. and eventually in 1973 the Saudis joined the OPEC oil embargo after the US supplied Israel with the military means to defeat the Arab armies of Egypt and Syria during the Yom Kippur war.

Only two lectures remain in the Islamist Entanglement Series: One about Israel and one putting everything together entitled "The Middle East: Its Past and Its Prospects". It's still not too late to catch up!

1 comment:

Burgess Laughlin said...

As a Moroccan Muslim pointed out to me here in Portland, Oregon: Note the arrogance of the tribe that named a country after itself. It would be in the US as if the Bushes renamed the US to be "Bushland" or the Kennedys were to rename the US to be "Kennedy America."