Imperialism is mother of Saudi Fundamentalism

Farooq Sulehria


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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 imperialist masters.

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



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