Saudi Arabia recent fate seems to be limited to oil. Oil only has made of this burnt place one of the richest nations in the world. Westerners came to extract the black gold that made billionaires of the tribal chiefs and its inhabitants wealthy annuitants. But, at a political level, nothing changed. The princes in power have one goal: to last, at any price.
Saudi leaders had all the cards in their hands for decades. They did what they wanted, the population remained ignorant, under the weight of old traditions. Consanguineous marriage, for example, remains widespread. 35% of marriages are between cousins, one of the highest rates in the world, with according pathologies... The population gradually opens onto the world, despite the weight of prohibitions. The Bedouin princes resist any attempt of democratic openness. But this game is dangerous, especially since they are now fighting against the same jihadist terrorism that they supported, financed, until the 90s. Today, the target of fanatics is not only the West, But Saudis, the "bad" Muslims from Riyadh. On December 26, 2015, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic state, called for insurrection in Saudi Arabia. From June 2014 to November 2015, the Islamic state killed 88 people in several attacks on Saudi territory.
Chief Mohammed Ibn Saoud, who gave his name to the country, came to power in the 18th century, in the Hedjaz. He associated himself with a religious preacher, Mohammed Ibn Abdelwahhab, to found Wahhabism, a particularly disturbing interpretation of Islam. Public decapitations, with sword, are still part of the decor, Saudi women, hampered by absurd prohibitions such as the prohibition to drive or to consult the messages on the mobile phone of the husband, have a secondary role ...
The country is not a model of democracy, the assistance of a lawyer is not always guaranteed, and confessions can be obtained through torture. Foreigners who are tried do not always benefit from translation services and confess without knowing it. People who are calling for political or judicial reforms are imprisoned. Slavery, which was officially abolished only in 1968, continues for thousands of servants who are undergoing degrading treatment by Saudi employers. These barbaric manners do very little for public opinion support to Saudis...
Saudi Arabia itself was created in 1932 by King Abd-el-Aziz - known as the "Lion of the Nedjd". It was the British (Lawrence of Arabia) who helped him to defeat the declining Ottomans, conquer Mecca and Medina, and eliminate the Hashemites, (the last true descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, by the way).
The discovery of oil, in 1938, attracted, of course, the United States as a magnet. The Quincy Pact has since exchanged Saudi oil against the questionable support of Washington. Riyadh was, in return, the Arab ally of Washington in the face of the demands of the Arab nationalists, backed by Moscow in the years 1950-1960. Washington has always endeavored to cover up its shameful Arab ally. In 2015, for example, the United Nations went so far as to appoint Saudi Arabian Faisal ben Hassan as head of the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council! Riyadh was also able, with the support of Washington and others, to prevent an international investigation into its air strikes in Yemen. This could be laughable if there had not been 80 death sentences in the country the same year and 500 Yemeni children killed by the Saudi bombings, in complete violation of international rules ...
Since the death of Abd-el-Aziz in 1953, his sons have succeeded him. The dictatorship of these Saudi potentates was based on the support of the Muslim ulemas. A 1927 fatwa simply forbids revolt against the ruling princes.
In exchange, Saudis (Washington closing its eyes) systematically supported global Islamic terrorism, financing its most extremist elements to please the Wahhabi theologians of the kingdom. The increase in oil revenues in the early 1980s, oddly enough, coincided with the global rise of Salafism in the world...
But the race for religious orthodoxy could not be won by the millionaire princes, living in disorders of all kinds under the protection of the Americans. Groups of fanatics, such as Osama bin Laden, eventually turned against Riyadh. During the terrorist attacks of 9/11, 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis. According to the classified report of the parliamentary commission of inquiry on 9/11, the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, as well as some wealthy Saudis settled in Sarasota, Florida, were directly involved in the attacks of 9/11. Saudi Arabia has threatened to sell hundreds of billions of US dollars if the Congress American government passed a bill that would make the government of the kingdom responsible in the US courts. US Senators unanimously approved a law authorizing the victims 9/11 to directly prosecute Saudi Arabia. In July 2016, the US Congress issued a document confirming that some of the 9/11 hijackers were indirectly in contact with the Saudi government. At least, two of the terrorists were confirmed Saudi intelligence agents. Wikileaks proved publically that Saudi private donors remain the world's largest source of funding for Sunni terrorist groups.
On Nov. 20, 2015, in the New York Times, the first novel Goncourt Prize 2015, writer Kamel Daoud, targeted by a fatwa, said that Saudi Arabia was only a "Daech who succeeded." One could refine the analysis by slipping that the kingdom is a prototype of Daech, the model to be surpassed for all aspirants to the Islamist dictatorship.
Despite Washington's oil lobby attempts to blackout , anxious to protect its unstoppable oil supplier, Saudi fanatic millionaires focus Western reject, making Washington's unconditional support more difficult to justify. In April 2016, US President Barack Obama aknowledged in "The Atlantic" magazine that Indonesia, a tolerant Muslim state, had become an extremist country, because of the funding by the Saudi extremist movements and Wahhabi schools .. Saudi Arabia is funding communications and press campaigns to try to improve its disastrous image in Western opinions.
On the domestic level, King Abdelaziz brought financial comfort to the population, who lived decades of irresponsible annuitant life. The country has equipped itself with modern equipment, but the princes in power have never wanted to hear about sharing power... and real money.
Since the death of Abd al-Aziz in 1953, Saud, Faisal, Khalid, Fahd, Abdullah and, since 2015, Salman ben Abdelaziz ruled with the help of the Muttawa, the religious police, which borders closely internet, bans Music in public, bans theater, filters satellite television. The wearing of the integral veil is obligatory and women undergo a thousand of constraints from other ages.
On the economic front, the golden era has passed. The decline in the price of a barrel of black gold put the budget for 2015 in deficit. The country now draws money from its financial reserves and the Saudis have not learned to save. According to the IMF, at this rate, Saudi Arabia could be bankrupt by 2020. Unemployment already affects 30% of the population. Hundreds of thousands of foreign workers have been expelled, but it is not clear whether Saudis are considering replacing them. According to Pierre-Jean Luizard, a historian and researcher at the CNRS, the country is fettered by Salafist movement which today represents a mortal danger to the power of the Saudi princes. The phenomenon is all the more disruptive as 75% of the Saudis are under 30 years old, and therefore particularly vulnerable to insurgent spirit.
The Salafi Arab ulema have supported all Muslim extremists, including the Ahrar el Sham group and the Al-Nosra front in Syria. But apart from a few Saudi princes who are frustrated because they are dismissed from power, there is little support for the Islamic state because it questions the "Islamic purity" of Saudi Arabia. In 2015, Mohammed ben Salmane Al Saoud, then Minister of Defense, engaged Saudi Arabia in an adventurous military operation in Yemen against the Houthis rebels.
Salman obsession, now king, is always Teheran, whose influence he wants to limit far from his borders. The war in Yemen, a trap actually (see http://williamkergroach.blogspot.fr/2017/06/a-new-islamic-state-is-born-in-arabia.html) is particularly dangerous for Saudi Arabia . Saudi Arabia, although, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the second largest arms importer in the world, is a poor value army, unable to meet the young king war ambitions.
The danger comes from Pakistan: Saudi Arabia, which financed the Pakistani atomic bomb, could, in the event of a serious military defeat, claim a few warheads for repayment ...