I saw a special not to long ago on PBS about the history of Saudi Arabia and the relationship that America has had with it for the past 70 years.
I understand the difficulty that the Saudi royal family has today as well as America and how much our economy depends on them. Not only that, the Saudi's resources were crucial at a time when America was fighting many of its wars. I really now see why we will never get Bin Laden. We need the Saudi royal family in power so we can continue getting its resources. If they fall, and for some reason the resources fall into another country's hands, then that would be a great blow to our economy as well as our fuel for defense. The Saudi royals are not just in bed with the Bush family, but with the American government in general. All of our presidents (democratic and republican alike) kept the relationship with the Saudi royals strong and going.
I broke down many of the things I found interesting while watching the program. (please forgive a lot of the spelling) I wonder if anyone else caught the special and if so, what did you guys think? What parts do you aree or disagree with? What parts of my explanation (as long as it might be) do you or agree or disagree with?
1. 100 years ago (or more) Saudi Arabia (similar to Africa today) were in constant tribal wars. They had problems inside their country, as well as outside. Due to infighting, if other Muslim countries wanted to invade and take over, they could. This worried the Saudis.
2. Abdul Aziz (of the noble tribesman of the Saud family) set out to conquer and unify Saudi Arabia in 1902. He used the fighting skills of the Ikhwan. A fierce tribe of warriors who are also Wahhabi Islamic puritans. Aziz persuaded them to join him and that they could unify Saudi Arabia by spreading fundamental Islam. Anyone who didn't see things the way they did, the Ikhwan was pretty much against. After Aziz and the Ikhwan captured province after province of Saudi Arabia, they captured Mecca and Medina thus making Aziz in charge of the holy shrines.
3. The Ikhwan became thirsty for power and wanted to attack all Muslim countries. Aziz tried to restrain them and they rebelled.
4. Aziz has to destroy the Ikhwan in order to stay in power. His way out was to win over the religious establishment, the Ummah or Umamah (sp?), who were regarded as the moral guardians of the realm. Whatever judgement they passed, the people followed. The Ummah judged that Aziz was right 'cause under Islamic law, the Ikhwan had no right to rebel against the ruler. That was a turning point because the Ummah became a force to be used to sanction politics. This happened in 1927. Aziz now has permission to crush the Ikhwan, and that is what he pretty much did.
5. In 1932...actually this is the time he declared himself king and gave his family name to the country thus Saudi Arabia.
6. To unite the kingdom, Aziz married the daughters of every tribal chief in his realm and produced 45 legitimate sons. Every Saudi king since has been a son of Abdul Aziz.
7. Saudi's economical status would've remained in the backwater if it wasn't for the discovery of oil. An American philanthropist was in Saudi Arabia and was complaining of the lack of water. (This was in 1931) Thus he sponsored a geological survey. Instead of striking water, he strikes oil.
8. The only way to get oil out of the ground was to invite foreign companies into the kingdom. The Americans brought the most money to the table and paid upfront thus they got the best contracts. The biggest oil fields on earth are now located in Saudi Arabia.
9. ARAMCO (Arabian American Oil Company) was created to prospect for oil and market it. America's 4 largest oil corporations become the sole shareholders.
10. America really needed the oil for its fighting in the wars at that time. It was seen as a national security priority. A perfect marriage between Saudi Arabia and America was formed at that point. The Americans needed the oil and the Saudi's (mostly the Saudi royal family) needed protection against their enemies...whoever and where ever they are.
11. With the new contract between the Saudis and Americans, American workers are shipped over there and communities are built (similar to how they have military housing around the world). Chief executive positions of various oil companies were created for relatives of the royal family as well as close friends.
12. Since Americans were shipped over there, they wanted an American way of life. This way of life spills over into the Saudi lifestyle...mostly into the privileged Saudi's though. They are exposed to refrigeration, air conditioning, electricity, etc., and value it very much. They are more progressive and want to have "first world" status and help usher Saudi Arabia into the 20th century.
13. World War II happens and Jews are slaughtered. The American presidency feels guilty. President Roosevelt meets with the Saudi prince and asks if the Jews can have some land where Palenstinians are existing. The Prince says no and Roosevelt agrees. Unfortunately, there is a changing of the guard. Roosevelt exits and here comes Truman. Truman acts as if there was no agreement in the first place and thus we have Israel today
14. The royal family and their close friends make A LOT of money and start to take lavish trips to Europe and around the world. Not only that, most of the royal family's children start getting educated abroad. The conservative right in that country took note of this and was not pleased.
15. In 1952, Nasir (sp?) comes into power in Egypt (ending colonialism). He claims that he is a socialist and aligns himself witht the Soviet Union. He also created the term pan Arabist. Nasir wanted the Saudi oil under his control saying that it belonged to all Arab peoples.
16. Under king Faisal (the 3rd ruler of Arabia), little girls were allowed to go to schools only in parts where the people allowed. There was an uproar because the Saudi people didn't know what would happen if little girls ever became educated. He did this to help modernize Saudi Arabia. To reconcile the differences between him and the fundamentalists, he placed female education under a separate body that could control the curriculum so he wouldn't be directly responsible for it. If the people in the area did not want a school, they did not get one. Faisal's reasons to start the program was because he felt that the education would benefit them as they approached womanhood. All of this happened in the early sixties.
17. To keep peace with the conservatives, King Faisal made Saudi Arabia a sanctuary for extremists Mulims abroad. When governments in Egypt and Syria cracked down on fundamental religious scholars, King Faisal invited them to teach Saudi Arabian youth. Down the road it was a poor decision because many of today's Saudi radicals studied under Egyptian and Syrian fundamentalists.
18. In 1965, the religious conservatives became highly upset when king Faisal approved television broadcasts in the kingdom. This made them upset because you are not supposed to show images. He tried to please them by having broadcasts of people reciting the Quran demonstrating that television can be used for good.
19. In 1967, war was brewing. Nasir moved his troupes to Israel's border and ordered the U.N. out. Uniting against Israel, Faisal reconciles with Nasir and joins the fight. The Muslim nations suffer huge defeat and embarassement. Fingers are pointed at the U.S. claiming that they supported Israel in the fight.
20. The Saudi royal family sees it as a slap in the face but brush it off though 'cause as long as the Americans depend on their oil, they are still straight.
21. During the Boom time in Saudi Arabia (after they purposely kept their oil from the Americans to prove a point that the Americans need them...which was true 'cause America was fighting Vietnam at the time), after oil prices sky rocketed, the Bin Laden family generated an enormous amount of money, being the principal builders to the royals. This is the time in Saudi Arabia when most of the reconstruction happened and their cities started to look more modern and I guess more westernized.
22. More corruption and greed is starting to become more evident to the common Saudi and people are starting to wonder about the royal family as well as their adherence to fundamental Islam.
23. Russia takes interest in the middle east and that shakes up a few middle eastern nations. In 1979, the soviets invade Afghanistan. A lot of them feared coming under communist rule and being taken away from Islam. The Americans feared Russia's power in general. For once, the spotlight was briefly taken away from Western civilization poisoning Islam and focused on the Russians 'cause they were moving with force. The Saudi's and U.S. make a secret deal to contribute an equal amount to finance the war. The U.S. backs Muslim soldiers and sends aid to help kick out the Russians.
24. A fellow Sunni (sp?), Sadaam Hussein, is put into power in Iraq. He is from the same sect of Islam (being a Sunni and all) as the Saudi Royal family.
25. Sadaam unfortunately, turns on the Saudi royal family, and decides to attack Kuwait. The Saudis' weren't having it and needed help kicking them out thus we have the first Gulf War.
26. America promised the fall of Sadaam but it didn't happen. Not only that, we made the Saudi family help pay a hefty sum for the war. Sadaam is still in power and we are still occupying space in the Middle East.
27. In the late 80's/early 90's, the introduction of Arabic language satellite programs came into play more and was beyond the control of the royals. More women in Saudi Arabia have expanded world views...and now want things that other women in other nations have such as the right to learn how to drive. Shopping malls are coming into play in certain "priviliged" areas. American businesses like KFC and department stores like Saks Fifth Ave., etc., are setting up shop. BBC as well as Al Jazeera (sp?) start doing broadcasts from the middle east. The Saudis are exposed to this. On BBC, they see the evil "Palestinians" unfairly killing Jews (in which the U.S. seem to have no problem with as well as support) and on the other hand, Al Jazeera shows the Israelite soldiers unfairly killing Palestinians.
28. Pure Muslim fundamentalists are seeing this and are not happy at all. And now, the Islamic clergymen are starting to speak up. Remember a while ago when the Ikhwan tribe was slaughtered by the Saudi royal family? Well, not all of them are dead. They, as well as others, start organizing and terrorizing the spots that are seen to have the most western "influence" as well as American communities.
29. 9/11 happens, and the rest is history. You see people dancing in the streets cheering the victory for Bin-Laden.
30. Saudi's are cracking down on extreme radical fundamental teachers. (supposedly) About 1,300 (perhaps more) have been removed from teaching positions in universities and various other schools. Yet, there is a privately owned cable channel that preaches fundamental Islamic views.
31. The U.S. is embarrassed and don't want the gerenal public to know Saudi's connection to the U.S. economy...and that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis. So, we find a way to go after Iraq and knock Sadaam out of power. Keep in mind, we promised this some years back, taking out a Saudi enemy (Sadaam/Iraq), so America is keeping one promise to the Saudi royal family.
32. Now America just has to work on the occupational part. Their existence there is upsetting the Muslim world in general. And now people have voted in Iraq? Does our vision of democracy coincide with the Islamic majority's vision?
The elections in Iraq went off without a hitch or did they? How do the Saudi common people feel about the elections in Iraq? Can Islamic democracy be pulled off as long as they stay close to Islamic views? Or does America know that soon the Saudi royal family is going to fall, since they can't please everyone (the progressives as well as the fundamentalists), and is setting up shop in Iraq (especially with Sadaam out of power now) to get all the oil and leave Saudi Arabia high and dry when everything goes down? Hmmmmm.
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