DO THE SAUDIS SEE THE RITING ON THE WALL ?
JB at Riting on the Wall
( after graciously wishing me well on my current one-armed status -TY) noted what I wrote the other day on the Saudi regime:
The network of Islamists in Saudi Arabia have grown in power to the point where the house of Saud is effectively sharing power or at least ruling while sitting on a powder keg with Islamist imams always ready to strike a match and engage in political blackmail.
very true. i happen to disagree with his historical analysis, referring instead to the rise of the house of saud during the time of ibn 'abd al-wahhab and the coevolution of the saudi regime and religious conservatism-turned-radical revisionism. but the end result is the same: today, the saudis need a little leaning on and friendly advice about liberal democracy before something horrible happens
JB's point about the interrelationship between Wahabism and the House of Saud being a coevolution stretching back to the 18th century was apt and I am pretty much in agreement. Daniel Pipes
, noted scholar and presidential appointee is too brings up Abdul Aziz's crushing of the old Ikhwan brotherhood ( beating me to the punch) but illustrating that there is just a secondary aspect to Saudi politics involving patron-client ties of kinship, marriage and tribe that are also at work. This worldly aspect complicates and strengthens the religious zealots position in the Saudi world even if it is meaningless to them compared to adherence to Islamist purity - they benefit from the protection of less fanatical relatives and patrons higher up on the scale. Where Abdul Aziz acted, Fahd and Abdullah fear to tread, reluctant to disturb the delicate network of elite alliances and relationships that form the Saudi equivalent of the social contract. Moving against a 22 year old al Qaida supporting prince is not to arrest a misguided young man but to offend his grand uncle in the ministry of Defence whose cousin wedded your brother's second daughter. That is how in part the senior princes in the Saudi oligarchy view their terrorist crisis. The key terrorist supporters in Riyadh are a discontented minority in their own regime, not dissenters standing outside the palace or leaning against a wall in the casbah as in Algeria.