SAUDI ARABIA'S SHAKY LEGITIMACY
The terror bombing-firefight-guerilla operation in Saudi Arabia said several things about the War on Terror and our " good friends " the Saudis.
The good news is that the US-led, high pressure tactics on the Islamist network has drastically reduced their field of operations. Where once al Qaida plotted in London and ran safe houses in Germany and controlled a de facto state in Afghanistan the Islamofascists are now reduced to moving covertly either through failed states like Somalia or states-in-denial like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The regimes in Riyadh and Islamabad grabbed a tiger by the tail decades ago when they tried to bolster their internal support by indulging religious maniacs in their fantastical mythologizing.
It may surprise many of you but Saudi legitimacy was based upon the right of conquest, not religious piety when Abdul Aziz bin Saud
created Saudi Arabia by defeating the Hashemites of Mecca ( who now rule Jordan) and the Rashidi clan and coming to diplomatic terms with the other British client states on the Arabian peninsula. King Abdul Aziz was a " macho " Arab figure who liked his concubines and was relatively easy-going in his practice of Islam. Aziz was not a xenophobe either, having befriended for decades a British expatriate St. John Philby, a Nazi sympathizer ( and father of Communist spymaster Kim Philby). Alcohol was sold in the Kingdom into the 1960's. All the nonsense about the " holy soil " of Saudi Arabia is pure invention of Islamist fanatics like bin Laden, the only holy soil in Islam is in Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem and the Shiite shrines.
Saudi Arabia ran into a legitimacy crisis after the death of Abdul Aziz who's mastery was undisputed because his martial prowesss and personal reputation had justified his monarchy. The Saudis were confronted with the decidedly non-monarchical popularity of Arab nationalism personified by Nasser and the Syrian-Iraqi Baath parties. After a near disaster with the erratic King Saud, the family dynasty cemented its hold on power through King Faisal, widely respected by his subjects for his sincere religious piety. It was Faisal himself who was determined to counter the spread of Pan-Arabism ideology by fostering radical Islamism and anti-Zionism, a policy that meshed well with the dynasty's traditional close alliance and association with the Wahabi ulema. Faisal's brothers Fahd and Abdullah, do not command similar religious respect and when criticized for Westernization and love of luxury, they have appeased the religious radicals by buying them off with subsidies for their schools and ever stricter interpretation of the Sharia in Saudi courts. 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.
The Saudis need a covert push from Washington to save their own regime because they are so paralyzed by fear as to be worse than useless to the United States as an ally. If they do not act they will be overthrown anyway within months or just a few years and the US would have to intervene to secure the oil fields
in order tokeep them out of the hands of a revolutionary Islamist regime.