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Saudi Arabian National Security. Saudi Arabian National Security. Saudi Arabian National Security. Saudi Arabian National Security. Birth place of Islam and site of two of the holy cities of Islam World’s largest oil producer Under nominal Ottoman control 1517-1918

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Saudi Arabian National Security

  • Birth place of Islam and site of two of the holy cities of Islam
  • World’s largest oil producer
  • Under nominal Ottoman control 1517-1918
  • Monarchy built upon alliance between family of Al-Saud & Muwahhidun(“Wahhabis”)
  • Three Saudi state-formation and state-building experiments:
    • 1st Saudi state 1745-1818
    • 2nd Saudi state 1824-1891
    • 3rd Saudi state 1902-Present
  • Will the third Saudi state survive external & domestic threats??

1st Saudi State & State-formation1745-1818

  • Alliance between Muhammad ibnSa`ud, Amir of Di`iriyyahand Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab; secular & religious authority brought together
  • Proselytism and expansion: 1765 Nejd conquered, 1790 all Arabian peninsula except Hedjaz, 1798 tried to attack Mesopotamia
  • Military overconfidence and barbaric behavior of muwahhidun
  • Egyptians under Muhammad Ali smash the 1st Saudi state in 1818

Lack of foreign support, alienation of neighbors, overconfidence in mil. capabilities


2nd Saudi State and State-formation:1824-1891

  • In 1824 TurkiibnAbdallah rallies tribes under Wahhabi banner and drives Egyptians out of Nejd. Est. of capital in Riyadh
  • Turki begins strategy of re-conquest of peninsula, carried on by son Faisal
  • Egyptians in peninsula in 1838: overthrow Faisal; vassal Saudi state under Khalid (1838-42) and Abdallah (1842-1843)
  • Faisal seizes control again (1842-1865): massive expansion and consolidation, confrontation w/ British, recognition of British mil. superiority
  • 2nd Saudi state weakened by severe internecine 1865-1889 conflicts and overthrown by rivals Al-Rashids another prominent Nedji tribe.

Internal dissension = threat & collapse


3rd Saudi State & State-formation:1902-1953

  • Emir Abd- al Aziz (Ibn Saud) recaptures Riyadh: extends control over neighboring provinces: e.g. southern Nejd & Al-Qasim, Al-Hasa
  • Uses the IkhwanMovement for consolidation of power
  • Annexation of Jamal Shammar, delimitation of borders w/ neighbors, conquest of Hedjaz & Asir
  • The IkhwanRebellions and their defeat at Sibilla,1929
  • Oil Concessions and Consolidation of Power, 1934-1945
  • Emergence of U.S.-Saudi Informal Alliance
  • Kingdom’s emerging role in regional politics

Saudi National Security &Threat Perceptions, 1954-1973

  • Internal: intra-dynastic squabbles, nationalists and radicals, Shi`is, army officers, progressive princes, vulnerability of oil infrastructure and oil export routes
  • External: Arab nationalism and radicalism, Arab-Israeli conflict, Egypt, Republicanism in Yemen, Marxist movements (Dhufar Rebellion), Soviet penetration of Middle East, Iraq, Imperial Iranian pretensions

Saudi National Security and Threat Perceptions: 1974-Present

  • Internal: Religious radicalism, Succession crisis (?), Shi`i mobilization, vulnerability of oil infrastructure, massive socioeconomic distress, demographics & youth bulge, foreign workers, jihadists
  • External: Iraq, Iran (Pahlavi & IRI), Israel, Yemen, unsettled Arab-Israeli conflict, proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, collapsing informal alliance w/ U.S.

Beyond The CairoEffect

  • A radical anti-Western regime in SaudiArabia—whichproduces one of every four barrels of oil world-wide—clearlywouldendangerthe world economy.
  • Unless the regimerapidly and radicallyreformsitself, itwillremainvulnerable to upheaval.
  • The gap betweenagedrulers and youthfulsubjectsgrowsdramatically as the information gap betweenrulers and ruledshrinks.
  • The averageage of the kingdom's trio of ruling princes is 83, yet 60% of Saudis are under 18 years of age. Thanks to satellite television, the Internet and social media, the youngnow are wellaware of government corruption—and that 40% of Saudis live in poverty and nearly 70% can'tafford a home.
  • TheseSaudis are living Third World lives, sufferingfrompooreducation and unable to find jobs in a privatesectorwhere 90% of all employees are imported non-Saudis.
  • Through new media the young compare theircircumstancesunfavorablywiththose in nearby Gulf sheikhdoms and the West.
  • The combination of revolution in Cairo and governmentineptitude in JeddahproducedwidespreadSaudicynicism and anger on social media.
  • The traditional sources of stability in SaudiArabia have been the royal family and the Wahhabireligious establishment withwhichitiscloselyintertwined. These twinpillarswerelosingcredibilityandlegitimacyevenbeforeevents in Egypt.
  • The royal familyincreasinglyisseen by itssubjects as profligate, corrupt and unable to deliver efficient government.
  • The religious establishment, even as itenforcesitsuniquelyaustere brand of Islam, isincreasinglyseen as prostitutingitself by using religion to support whatever the rulingfamilywants.
  • As events in Cairo have played out, someworriedyounger princes have privatelyacknowledged the need to curb corruption, better serve citizens, and reform the dysfunctionalgovernmentbureaucracy.