A woman was sentenced to 65 lashes. She was
convicted of having committed adultery with her sister's husband.
The woman claimed before the court that it was a rape. The man
was sentenced to 4,700 lashes plus six months jail term.
Seven people had their hand amputated. At least
48 people were executed, three of them facing charges of homosexuality.
These horrible stories, reported by Amnesty
International in its annual report, did not come from Afghanistan
under Taliban. Neither Iran. Its Saudi Arabia: most theocratic,
fundamentalist state on the face of earth today. Taliban were
mere an ugly caricature of Sauds running Saudi Arabia.
Couple of years ago, 15 girls were burnt to
death in a fire incident at a college campus. Male rescue workers
did not lent help thinking that the girls would be without Hijab
(sloja). The incident would have made Taliban's envy of Sauds'
strict adherence to Hijab.
No Cherie Blair or Hillary Clinton, so concerned
about the plight of Afghan women, took notice of poor Saudi
women suffering as much repression as their Afghan counterparts
save the economic hardships.
Trade union rights, political parties, media
freedom, elections, or such terms do not exist in Saudi Arabia.
All this is going on under the careful watch of US and British
imperialists running military basis. Result: 15 out of 19 hijackers
accused of 911 events hailed from Saudi Arabia. Al Qaida master,
the famous Osama bin Ladin comes from Saudi Arabia. The place
Americans are most insecure (besides USA itself) is Saudi Arabia.
But it is hard to say who bears the responsibility:
puppet Saudi family regime or its US masters that make sure
Suads stay in power come what may?
Arabia was absorbed into the Turkish Ottoman
Empire during the 16th century, after the capture of Mecca by
the Turks in 1517. Under Turkish supervision, successive Sherifs
of Mecca governed the territory of Hijaz. In 1914 the British
armed forces chief Lord Kitchener offered the Sherif of Mecca
a deal under which Hijaz would acquire independence, guaranteed
by the UK, on condition that the Sherif supported the military
campaign against the Turks. The Sherif accepted, and after the
Turkish defeat, the Kingdom of Hijaz was recognised as independent
at the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres. On the other side of the
peninsula, the leading potentate was Abdul Aziz Ibn Abdar-Rahman,
better known as 'Ibn Saud', ruler of the province of Najd. In
1915, the Government of India, then under British rule, recognised
Najd and some other territories along the Persian Gulf as possessions
of Ibn Saud. Throughout the 1920s, military clashes between
Ibn Saud's troops and forces loyal to the Hashemite King of
Hijaz for control of the peninsula took place. The British and
other Western powers switched their support between the two
sides as it suited them. Eventually, Ibn Saud pushed out the
Hashemites with British and Us support, and in 1926 was recognised
as ruler of the Kingdom of Hijaz and Najd In 1932 this became
the United Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Hashemites were consoled
with the thrones of Iraq and Jordan.
Hijaz, comprising the two most holy places for
Muslims i.e. Mecca and Medina, was held in great esteem by Muslims.
Similarly, rulers of Hijaz popularly known then as Sherifs of
Mecca were Hashmites i.e. descendents of prophet Muhammad enjoyed
great respect among Muslims across the world.
In order to justify the war against Hashmites,
Ibn Saud tried to prove himself more orthodox Muslim not only
to win local support but also used "Wahabist" interpretation
of Islam to unify forces against Sherifs. By keeping Saudia
Arabia a medieval state, Ibn saud not only tried to build an
image of Saudia Arabia as a state that 'looked like' the state
of Medina under Muhammad but also he could crush any wave of
democracy and free thought.
Saud monarchy also tried by implementing and
practicing such orthodox version of Islam to turn Saudia Arabia
into a Muslim Vetican. To strengthen this role, it started supporting
orthodox wahabi or pro-Wahabi movements across the Muslim world.
From Hamas of Palestine, Jamat e Islami of Pakistan to FIS of
al Geria and Taliban of Afghanistan all have been recipients
of generous Saudi economic support.
Paying lip service to the burning problems facing
the Muslim world like Palestine question, Saudia Arabia has
been obediently serving the US imperialism. In return, the USA
has been guarding the House of Sauds.
Though Sauds kept the society culturally and
politically in dark ages yet through the revenues generated
from oil money, they were able to improve living standards for
Saudi masses. But above all, they used the western technology
to turn their lives into a luxury. Their living styles, wealth
and corruption was in sharp contrast to the version of Islam
they were preaching thus raising many questions in the minds
of Muslim masses across the Muslim world; above all, in Saudia
Arabia. Since, no democratic and political culture existed in
Saudi society, the opposition came from the clergy led by some
of the princes including Osama bin Ladin. Today, the Saudi opposition
is more fundamentalist then the Saudi monarchy. Interestingly,
today sections of US authorities as well as Muslim fundamentalists
are calling for an overthrow of Saudi monarchy.
The pressure led Saudi regime to announce, last
October 13, holding of local bodies elections. If women will
get right to vote and how fair the elections would be, is not
yet clear. However, this would be the first election practice
to be carried out in Saudi Arabia.
Also, Saudi Arabia has started a process of
privatisation and signed WTO thus opening its market more and
more for imperialist loot. Making it more acceptable to the
Meantime, American business is locked into the
Saudi royal family. The Carlyle group has been a principal benefactor
of Saudi largesse. Frank Carlucci (national security adviser
and Secretary of Defence under Reagan) was a chairman, James
Baker (Bush Snr's Secretary of State) is a senior counsellor,
and Arthur Levitt (Clinton's head of the Securities and Exchange
commission) is also an adviser. The current chairman of Carlyle
is former British prime minister John Major.
Halliburton - run by Dick Cheney until he became
Vice President -is also a major beneficiary of Saudi Arabia,
taking a $140m contract to develop an oilfield in 2001. Chevron
Texaco is a partner with Saudi Aramco in new oil ventures -
formerly on the board was Condoleezza Rice, America's favourite
National Security Adviser. And so it goes on.
This business report should easily convince
that no matter what happens in Saudi Arabia, America will go
on backing the House of Saud unless they collapse in which case,
the US can take over the Saudi oil fields from its nearby bases
in Iraq. If it was 12 minutes' flying time to Iraq's oil reserves,
it's the same if they take off from Basra to "secure"
Saudi Arabia's oil fields.
Till then, the House of Sauds should be guarded
carefully for running Saudi Arabia as the House of Fundamentalism