Bandar bin Sultan’s Botched Syrian Intervention

by Hilal Khashan
Middle East Quarterly
Winter 2014

In an untypically abrasive speech, Saudi King Abdullah welcomed the ouster of Egypt’s president Muhammad Morsi, stating: “Let the entire world know that the people and government of the Saudi kingdom stood and still stand today with our brothers in Egypt against terrorism, extremism, and sedition.”[1] However dramatic, this apparent shift from Riyadh’s traditional accommodation of perceived enemies, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and its regional affiliates, to a more daring foreign policy is too little too late to reverse the decline of its regional power. And nowhere was this weakness more starkly demonstrated than in Riyadh’s botched Syrian intervention, led by its most celebrated diplomat—Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

A Broken Tradition of Cooptation

The foundations of Saudi foreign policy were laid under historical circumstances that were completely different from today’s political situation. From the 1930s to the early 1950s, Western presence in the Middle East was quite strong with the region enjoying geopolitical homeostasis. The rise of radical regimes in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, coupled with Moscow’s growing involvement in the region, did not seem to threaten Riyadh’s domestic and international stance, and the intensifying U.S.-Saudi relations, cemented by mutual commitment to combating communism, steered the kingdom through the region’s periodic upheavals well into the late 1970s.

 

Saudi King Abdullah (l) meets with President Obama in Washington, June 29, 2010. Riyadh has been openly critical of U.S. policy in the Middle East and has sent unmistakable signals of its displeasure. Most Saudis worry that a vacillating and unserious commander-in-chief in Washington may leave them twisting in the region’s political winds.

This self-assurance played a central role in the Saudi royal family’s nonconfrontational approach and its preference for quiet diplomacy.[2] Military weakness, equilibrium, and calming situations were seemingly the three pillars of Riyadh’s foreign policy orientation. The royals ruled out asserting the kingdom as a military power and, thanks to oil wealth and religious significance, chose to make it a cornerstone of the regional balance of interests.[3]

The Iranian revolution and subsequent regional developments, notably the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the recent Arab upheavals, undermined this delicate balance of interests and made Riyadh’s accommodative policy increasingly untenable. Things came to a head during the 2011 Shiite uprising in Bahrain, which the Saudis feared might spread to their own territory. Having helped to quell the restiveness in the tiny neighboring kingdom, Abdullah enlisted the services of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former veteran ambassador to Washington, to take Saudi foreign policy in a more assertive direction.

The Prince of Sensitive Missions

Son of the late Saudi crown prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (d. 2011), Bandar began his political career in 1978 as King Khaled’s personal envoy to Washington bypassing Ambassador Faisal al-Hegelan.[4] He quickly impressed President Jimmy Carter by enlisting the support of Sen. James Abourezk (Democrat, S. Dakota) in the toss-up vote on the Panama Canal treaty, and his subtle diplomacy paved the way for Congress to pass the Saudi F-15 package shortly thereafter.[5] In 1986, Bandar entered the limelight as a result of his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal and, four years later, played an instrumental role in convincing hesitant Saudi royals to invite U.S. troops into the kingdom to cope with the consequences of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Since then, he has served as a vital liaison between Washington and Riyadh. In 2005, upon the completion of Bandar’s 22-year stint in Washington, King Abdullah appointed him to lead the country’s National Security Council.

Bandar’s advice was sought in large part due to the mounting evidence that implicated Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister, Rafiq Hariri, Riyadh’s ally in Beirut. Following the July 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah and the latter’s crippling of the Fouad Seniora government, Bandar convinced Abdullah to invest in creating a Sunni militia to operate under the command of Hariri’s son Saad. This fateful but ill-studied decision undermined Bandar’s credibility when, in 2008, Hezbollah’s militiamen stormed west Beirut and effortlessly dismantled Saad’s militia in a matter of hours. Bandar had evidently failed to appreciate the strength of Hezbollah or the ineptitude of Hariri’s leadership.

The Saudi royal family is seriously concerned about the turn of events in the region and the possibility of demands for political reform such changes might initiate. With more than two-thirds of its tribally and religiously heterogeneous population alien to the austere Wahhabi doctrine,[6] there is very little in common between the Najd-originated ruling Wahhabi dynasty and its Shiite subjects in the oil-rich eastern province or Shafii and Maliki Sunni Muslims in Hijaz. Likewise, the kingdom’s southern subjects mostly belong to Yemeni tribes where Shiite Ismailis and Zaydis proliferate.

Nevertheless, this failure did not deter Abdullah from calling on Bandar again in July 2012 to head the Saudi intelligence apparatus. The Saudi king had already become disturbed about the course of events in Syria and Bashar Assad’s refusal to leave office. He may have thought that Bandar, who knew how to deal with Saddam Hussein, could work some magic with Bashar. In turn, mindful of Bandar’s deep unease with regional Shiite ascendancy, Tehran’s state-controlled media dubbed him the “prince of terrorists.”[7]

President George W. Bush meets with Saudi ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar bin Sultan (r), at the Bush ranch, August 27, 2002, in Crawford, Texas. Many Americans noted at the time the seeming supplicant position of their president. In 2005, King Abdullah appointed Bandar to lead the Saudi national security council.

President George W. Bush meets with Saudi ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar bin Sultan (r), at the Bush ranch, August 27, 2002, in Crawford, Texas. Many Americans noted at the time the seeming supplicant position of their president. In 2005, King Abdullah appointed Bandar to lead the Saudi national security council.

Read more 

Jordan’s King Finds Fault With Everyone Concerned

King Abdullah II of Jordan during a state visit to Russia in February, when he met with President Vladimir V. Putin. (Pool photo by Sergei Ilnitsky)

King Abdullah II of Jordan during a state visit to Russia in February, when he met with President Vladimir V. Putin. (Pool photo by Sergei Ilnitsky)

By :

CAIRO — King Abdullah II of Jordan leads one of the smallest, poorest and most vulnerable Arab nations. But that does not stop him from looking down on many of those around him, including the leaders of Egypt, Turkey and Syria, as well as members of his own royal family, his secret police, his traditional tribal political base, his Islamist opponents and even United States diplomats.

President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt has “no depth,” King Abdullah said in an interview with the American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, to be published this week in The Atlantic magazine. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is an authoritarian who views democracy as a “bus ride,” as in, “Once I get to my stop, I am getting off,” the king said.

And he said President Bashar al-Assad of Syria is so provincial that at a social dinner he once asked the monarchs of Jordan and Morocco to explain jet lag. “He never heard of jet lag,” King Abdullah said, according to an advance copy of the article.

The king’s conversations with Mr. Goldberg, an influential writer on the Middle East and an acquaintance of more than a decade, offer a rare view of the contradictory mind-set of Washington’s closest ally in the Arab world as he struggles to master the upheaval of the Arab Spring revolts. Seldom has an Arab autocrat spoken so candidly in public.

King Abdullah appears humbled and even fatigued by the many challenges he failed to foresee when he inherited the throne 14 years ago, describing himself before coronation as a “Forrest Gump” in the background of his father’s long reign. In contrast to his father, King Hussein, King Abdullah promises to move Jordan closer to a British-style constitutional monarchy, and thus to stay ahead of the Arab Spring wave.

Read more at NYT

Jeffrey Golberg talks to Jake Tapper about his interview with King Abdullah:

 

Muslim Brotherhood Puts Jordan in the Crosshairs

Jordan's King AbdullahBy Ryan Mauro

In March, the Dubai police chief warned that the Muslim Brotherhood had a plan for the Gulf monarchies. Instead of regime change, it would make them “figurehead bodies without actual ruling.” That’s exactly what the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to make happen in Jordan by demanding “democratic” reforms. And King Abdullah II appears to be wobbling under the stress.

King Abdullah II, the second most influential non-Islamist in the Muslim world, is hinting that he may bow to the Muslim Brotherhood’s demand that he delay the parliamentary elections scheduled for January 23. He is even considering appointing Brotherhood members to the upper house of parliament and amending the electoral law to their liking.

The Muslim Brotherhood says it will boycott the elections because the parliament doesn’t have enough power and the contests are unfair. They are biased towards tribes and against the majority Palestinian population. King Abdullah II appoints the entire upper house and has the power to hire and fire prime ministers at will. The new electoral law also permits the security services to vote, bumping him up about 10% in any contest.

The Brotherhood is also unhappy with the makeup of the parliament. Voters pick a national list, which accounts for 17 of 140 seats and the rest are chosen on the district level. The Brotherhood only runs on the national list so it wants the balance changed. Abdullah tried to appease the Islamists by increasing the allotment for the national lists to 27 seats but added 10 seats to the size of parliament. The Brotherhood seeks 42 seats for national lists.

The pressure on Abdullah and his government skyrocketed in recent months with the largest protests in Jordan’s history taking place last week. The country faces a $3.35 billion deficit and about 80% of the budget goes to the military and bureaucracy. Abdullah had to cut subsidies, causing a 53% increase in the cost of heating gas and 12% spike in the price of petrol. The price of electricity is expected to increase about 32% in January.

The Brotherhood officially advocates “evolution, not revolution” but chants demanding the fall of the government are increasingly common. Direct criticism of Abdullah is a new development. In four days of protests last month, 280 were arrested, 75 were injured including 58 police officers and one young man was killed in Irbid when a crowd tried to storm a police station. Casualties have the power to turn protests against policies into cries for changes in leadership.

Hamza Mansour is the Secretary-General of the Islamic Action Front, the name of the Brotherhood party in Jordan. He wants Abdullah to “form a national salvation government that would include Islamists and other opposition figures to change controversial legislation, like the election law, and help parliament regain its independence so that it can impartially monitor the government and official corruption.” If the Brotherhood can expose government corruption, it will be able to undercut support for the government and present itself as a more trustworthy alternative.

The “democratic” reforms that the Brotherhood seeks are part of the same strategy of “gradualism” that it has followed in Egypt. It observed that the monarchies have proven to be stronger than the dictatorships, so it changed strategy by declining to demand the resignation of the leadership. It is important to recognize the undemocratic voice shouting for democratic reforms.

Read more at Front Page

Has the US Administration Decided to Get Rid of Jordan’s King Abdullah?

by Khaled Abu Toameh

Unless the US clarifies its position regarding King Abdullah and reiterates its full backing for his regime, the Muslim fundamentalists are likely to step up there efforts to create anarchy and lawlessness in the kingdom. Washington needs to reassure King Abdullah and his followers that it will not allow the creation of an Islamic terror republic in Jordan.

Has the US Administration decided to get rid of Jordan’s King Abdullah?

This is the question that many Jordanians have been asking in the past few days following a remark made by a spokesman for the US State Department.

Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner managed to create panic [and anger] in the Royal Palace in Amman when he stated that there was “thirst for change” in Jordan and that the Jordanian people had “economic, political concerns,” as well as “aspirations.”

The spokesman’s remark has prompted some Jordanian government officials to talk about a US-led “conspiracy” to topple King Abdullah’s regime.

The talk about a “thirst for change” in Jordan is seen by the regime in Amman as a green light from the US to King Abdullah’s enemies to increase their efforts to overthrow the monarchy.

The US spokesman’s remark came as thousands of Jordanians took to the streets to protest against their government’s tough economic measures, which include cancelling subsidies for fuel and gas prices.

The widespread protests, which have been dubbed “The November Intifada,” have resulted in attacks on numerous government offices and security installations throughout the kingdom. Dozens of security officers have been injured, while more than 80 demonstrators have been arrested.

And for the first time, protesters in the Jordanian capital have been calling for overthrowing King Abdullah. In an unprecedented move, demonstrators last week tried to march on the monarch’s palace in Amman in scenes reminiscent of anti-regime protests in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Egypt.

The Jordanian authorities claim that non-Jordanian nationals who infiltrated the border have been involved in the violence, the worst to hit the kingdom in decades. The authorities say that Saudi and Syrian Muslim fundamentalists are responsible for attacks on government offices and other institutions, including banks.

Some Jordanian officials have pointed a blaming finger at Saudi Arabia and Qatar for encouraging the anti-regime protests and facilitating the infiltration of Muslim fundamentalists into the kingdom.

The officials believe that Jordan is paying the price of refusing to play a larger and stronger role in Saudi-Qatari efforts to topple Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.

Read more at Gatestone Institute

Thousands chant ‘revolution’ in rare protest against Jordan’s king

Jordanian gendarmerie police stand guard to separate pro-government supporters from anti-government protesters Tuesday. Muhammad Hamad /Reuters

By NBC News staff and wire reports:

Demonstrations and calls for general strikes hit key U.S. ally Jordan after the country’s prime minister added to the country’s economic problems by announcing price hikes for gas and other fuel.

Abdullah Ensour’s announcement on state television Tuesday cited a need to offset $5 billion in state losses by increasing fuel costs.

It sparked protests in the capital, Amman, and at least 12 other cities across Jordan.

The protesters, spanning an array of different political groups, also targeted King Abdullah II — a rare public display against the monarch.

Criticizing the king in public is forbidden in Jordan and is punishable by up to three years in jail.

“Revolution, revolution, it is a popular revolution,” chanted about 2,000 in an impromptu demonstration at a main Amman square, housing the Interior Ministry and other vital government departments.

“Freedom is from God, in spite of you, Abdullah,” they shouted

Tough test for regime

Cars jammed gas stations to stock up on fuel before the price hike takes effect on Wednesday.

The protests looked set to escalate toward the end of the week, setting a tough test for Jordan’s regime, although military suppression tactics – commonly used in Egypt and elsewhere – are highly unusual.

The country has traditionally been one of the most stable in the Middle East, despite its position at the fulcrum of the region’s deepest conflicts in recent years. Its longest border, with Israel, has been peaceful since a 1993 treaty.

Read more at NBC World News

The Islamic Threat Doctrine and 9/11/2012

Arab “Spring”

By Alan Kornman

A dark feeling of betrayal and stunned disbelief washed over me as I read the newspaper headline, “Jordanians press for democratic reforms” in the October 6, 2012 Orlando Sentinel.

The Myth of Islamic Democratic Reforms

The mainstream media, U.S. State Department, and President Obama fed us a steady stream of news in 2011 that Egyptian youth were protesting in the streets for an Arab Spring of democratic reforms in Egypt.  Fast forward to 2012 and we learned The Muslim Brotherhood orchestrated the propaganda of democracy in Egypt to get support from the Obama Administration in the ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

While the press was printing gallons of ink reporting the Muslim Brotherhood would pursue democratic reforms in Egypt, Mohammad Morsi was consolidating his political base with the Salafi Islamist fundamentalists, whose objective was to institute a Sunni-led Shariah-compliant Islamic State in Egypt by overthrowing the colonialist dictator and friend of the United States, Hosni Mubarak.

The utopian mantra from the liberal left of democratic reforms blooming in Egypt on a warm and sunny Arab Spring day were proven wrong. Now these same journalists and politicians are falling for the same lie again out of Jordan.

When will our mainstream press learn that Shariah compliant political Islam and our Jeffersonian democracy are not compatible? Understanding the PLO’s failed coup of Jordan in the 1970′s will help you to see what Jordan can expect from the Muslim Brotherhood in 2012-2013.

Black September in Jordan

In September of 1970, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient Yasser Arafat, nephew of Nazi collaborator Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, tried unsuccessfully to violently overthrow the Kingdom of Jordan from King Hussein.

Arafat’s PLO organization lost over 2,000 Muslim men in the attempted Black September coup of their Jordanian Muslim brothers and were violently expelled from their native Jordan.

History seems to be repeating itself again,  except now The Muslim Brotherhood is making a play to wrestle control of Jordan from the colonialist dictator and friend of the United States, King Abdullah II.

If King Abdullah II tries to appease The Muslim Brotherhood he will find himself either dead or in exile wondering how he lost his throne.  King Abdullah II need look no further than Qaddafi, Mubarak, and Assad to see his future, if he continues on his current path.

Understanding The Islamic Threat Doctrine

Understanding the Islamic Threat Doctrine (click here to read it) is essential in predicting events as they unfold on the ground and anticipating what to expect will happen in the future. Fortunately for the American people, our Islamist adversaries are more than happy to tell us exactly what their doctrine and objectives are.

We will now learn the Islamic Threat Doctrine from a well respected Islamic Jihadist who was tops in his class amongst his Jihadi peers.  Today’s teacher of the doctrine is Sheikh Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi or by his title, “Emir of Al Qaeda in the Country of Two Rivers.”  On June 7, 2006 Mr. Zarqawi was killed when a USAF F-16 dropped two 500 pound guided bombs on his safe house in Baqubah, Iraq prematurely ending his career of violence and butchery to achieve his political objectives.

Shortly before his death, Mr. Zarqawi conducted an in depth interview with the Al-Furican Foundation for Media Production, an entertainment arm of Al-Qaeda. Hidden deep in the interview Mr. Zarqawi explains clearly what the Islamic Threat Doctrine is and its objectives.

These two paragraphs below should change your life forever and how you view the world around you.  Al-Qaeda terrorist Musab Al-Zarqawi says,

“We fight in the way of Allah, until the law of Allah is implemented, and the first step is to expel the enemy, then establish the Islamic state, then we set forth to conquer the lands of Muslims to return them back to us, then after that, we fight the kuffar (disbelievers) until they accept one of the three (conversion, death or dhimmitude).
“I have been sent with the sword, between the hands of the hour”; this is our political agenda.”
“It is necessary to accept the fact that it is an obligation for every Muslim to rush to help each other and it is also very necessary to agree that the houses of Muslims are just one house. The enemies (the disbelieving nations) have imposed boundaries and divided the lands of Muslims to tiny nations — however we do not believe in them and the boundaries of Sax Bacon do not restrict us. We, the Muslims, are one nation and the lands of Islam are one land, we fight for the sake of “there is no god but Allah”.

The Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East and Northern Africa are “expelling the enemy” and establishing an Islamic State as they did in Egypt.  Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood consider the Muslim colonialist dictators as enemies of Shariah-compliant political Islam.

The Islamic Threat Doctrine Mr. Zarqawi articulated above is being implemented in coordinated steps to achieve their short-term objective of unifying, “Muslims to rush to help each other…and Muslims are of one house.”  The coordinated attacks on 9/11/12 on U.S. interests in the Middle East and Northern Africa was the real warning to America, not the red herring of an internet movie.

When the Islamist enemies of the United States tell you exactly what they want to do and why — believe them. When the soldiers of Allah conducted 20+ coordinated attacks on U.S. interests in the Middle East and Northern Africa on 9/11/2012,  they were telegraphing they can recreate these coordinated attacks at any time of their choosing — in law enforcement circles they call that a clue, as John Guandolo likes to say.

What Our Islamist Enemies Fear Most

The one thing our Islamist adversaries fear most is an American public that understands the basics of The Islamic Threat Doctrine (watch a ten-part video course about it by clicking here). Thomas Jefferson read the Qur’an to fight and defeat the Muslim Barbary Pirates in Tripoli back in 1801. Now you must learn The Islamic Threat Doctrine to understand the Islamists who attacked our embassy in Tripoli on 9/11/2012.

Conclusion

The future of America rests on how many Americans learn The Islamic Threat Doctrine as articulated by Mr. Zarqawi. Then you must teach your friends, family, and community what Mr. Zarqawi and his Islamist ideological brothers consider their definition of Victory.

We, the Muslims, are one nation and the lands of Islam are one land, we fight for the sake of “there is no god but Allah”.

What we believe as Americans and our man made laws is of small concern to our Islamist enemies. The followers of Islam believe “there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger” and that was the message on the black flags that flew above our overrun embassies and consulates when they were attacked on 9/11/2012.
God Bless America and God Bless Our Troops.

Published at Citizen Warrior
Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Alan Kornman is the regional coordinator of The United West — Uniting Western Civilization for Freedom and Liberty. His email is: alan@theunitedwest.org

 

Saudi Arabia – Moderate Voice or Draconian Monarchy?

By Clare Lopez:

Saudi Arabia’s hardline ultra-conservative religious council, the Majlis al-Ifta’ al-A’ala working in conjunction with Kamal Subhi, a former professor at the King Fahd University, have just released a ‘scientific study’ that has come to some rather outlandish conclusions. 

In response to the growing pressure from women’s groups in Saudi Arabia to lift the ban on women driving, the report has warned that doing so would “provoke a surge in prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce.” Within ten years of the ban being lifted, the report’s authors claim, there would be “no more virgins” in the Islamic kingdom. And it pointed out “moral decline” could already be seen in other Muslim countries where women are allowed to drive.

Just a few weeks earlier, the Kingdom’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice has proposed a law to stop women from revealing their “tempting” eyes to the public. Should this law be passed, it would in effect, force Saudi women to more or less cover their entire bodies from head to toe – including their eyes. 

The Saudi Kingdom clearly is passing through a stressful period: not because the Crown Prince died earlier this year and his likely successors are all tottering through their twilight years; not because the Kingdom’s arch rival, Iran, is driving for a deployable nuclear weapon; nor even because revolutionary forces are sweeping the region. No, to all indications in the international media, the real problem is all the Mutawain (Saudi morals police) jockeying for extra duty to select exactly which female eyes henceforth will have to be covered in public.   

This is the absurdity of Saudi Arabia today. Even as its aging royal rulers (King Abdullah is 88 years old) observe fellow Arab regimes going down around them like ten pins, the Kingdom’s leadership knows it lacks the most basic resources of a modern state to meet the inevitable demands of its youthful population. It’s not that this brutal police state lacks the repressive security forces or material resources to deal with a popular protest movement. It’s that neither these, nor all the vast oil wealth in the Peninsula, can stop the sands of time which are rapidly counting down the hours on a regime decked in the gaudy glitz of modern excess but trapped in a savage mindset from the 7th century. 

A new book  “Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network: America and the West’s Fatal Embrace,” presents a disturbing look at the realities of the Saudi Kingdom, whose rigid Wahhabist Islamic code locks it into a bigoted, jihadist, misogynist world view grounded in anti-Western animus and Jew-hatred. Without the Saudis’ key role in the global oil-based economy and calculated largesse to policymakers, think tanks, and universities to help smooth the way, it surely would be an uphill slog otherwise for their armies of well-heeled lobbyists. As it is, for decades the Saudis have counted on petro-dollars and Western cupidity to ensure official submissiveness in the face of blatant financial support to Muslim terrorist groups, mega-mosques and Islamic Centers, and the shariah-promoting literature and textbooks that stoke jihad in all of them. 

Before the well-organized onslaught of the so-called “Arab Spring” in 2011, the Saudi Kingdom may well have believed its most critical challenges came from its Shi’ite Persian nemesis across the Gulf and Iran’s Sunni al-Qa’eda allies on the Peninsula (AQAP). In the space of months, however, it was no longer a question of escaping the turmoil but of damage control. Having dispatched three more-or-less secular dictatorships in 2011, the al-Qa’eda and Muslim Brotherhood forces on the march across North Africa have made no secret of their intent to take aim at “corrupt” monarchs next year. A young, restless population with inadequate opportunities for meaningful work, next to zero approved social outlets, and plenty of access to the latest technology toys with which to view how the rest of the 21st century world lives, leaves an unprepared Saudi leadership facing the inevitable clamor for expanded political and social rights.     

Only the lack of an organized opposition characterized by the total absence of political parties or trade unions and real fear among the Saudi urban middle class that revolt against the House of Saud could set loose chaos that would split apart the country’s regional, religious, and sectarian fault lines have kept the place together this long. But it is Western, especially American, willingness to turn a blind eye to Saudi terror funding, support for the Da’wa stealth jihad campaign led by the Muslim Brotherhood, and backing for the spread of Shariah Compliant Finance that enables the charade of Saudi “partnership” to stand. 

A few crumbs like King Abdullah’s September 2011 decree that Saudi women will be allowed to serve in parliament in 2012 and vote and stand as candidates in 2015 municipal elections are hardly enough to satisfy the pent-up energy of the 50% of the Saudi population whose every move in life remains chained to primitive, misogynistic and often violent notions of gender roles. Even as Saudi society deprives itself of intellectual and professional contributions from half its population, its aging, hypocritical rulers indulge in polygamous and hedonistic lifestyles. According to a WikiLeaks cable from 2008, the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh reported that King Abdullah “remains a heavy smoker, regularly receives hormone injections and ‘uses Viagra excessively.’” 

Change is coming to the Saudi desert kingdom whether the Saudis are ready or not. All things considered, trends already in motion do not look good over the long-term for the House of Saud, no matter how many hundreds of billions the King hands out. Foreign policy outreach to establish a network of economic and political ties with potential global partners such as China, Japan, and Russia is not a bad idea either, just inadequate to deal with what is essentially an internal problem: how to unleash the potential of all Saudis to compete in the modern world and loose the shackles that have hobbled them since the dawn of Islam. 

Saudi youth, both male and female, have some choices to make, choices their diminishingly lucid elders probably cannot make, about what kind of society they want to live in. U.S. and Western leaderships have some shackles of their own to cast off, beginning with energy dependence and willful blindness about the Saudi commitment to shariah Islam, jihad, and the subjugation of Dar al-Harb (the non-Muslim world) to Dar al-Islam (the Muslim world) Absent is the realization that equality, individual liberty, minority protection, pluralism, rule of man-made law, and tolerance are the building blocks of civil society that undergird a true democracy, and that these things are not necessarily genetically coded in human beings but must be defended and nourished, neither the House of Saud nor American exceptionalism can expect to weather intact the storms ahead.

 

Clare M. Lopez, a senior fellow at the Clarion Fund, is a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on Middle East, national defense, and counterterrorism issues.