Saudi Unrest Grows; Police Shoot To Kill
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  • Anthony

    WRM, I take away two key insights: Kingdom that isn’t a nation and sanctioning Iran isn’t cost free. Additionaly, energy needs and supply are crucial 21st century issue – “something to watch closely.”

  • “In the short term it would be surprising if the Saudis fail to maintain security in this restive region. But longer term, the Saudi kingdom is a very strange thing. The Wahabi tribes of the center dominate the Shiite east with its oil wealth, and the traditionally cosmopolitan and broadminded cities of the Hejaz (Jiddah, Mecca and Medina) with their religious prestige and their income from pilgrims. Money and the political skills of the large royal family hold the kingdom together but beneath the surface uniformity, there’s a lot of tension between a kingdom that isn’t a nation.”

    An excellent point on which to end a post full of sadly neglected issues. And if my memory serves, we’ve been more or less neglecting them since the late 1970s – a time when we Westerners, to all appearances, decided it was best to have a quasi-(pseudo?)friendly, anti-modernizing, “compliant” Saudi monarchy at the center of Mideast oil politics. As opposed to a friendly but modernizing and, most dangerously of all, INDEPENDENT Iranian monarchy. Interesting possibility: Our Western opting for Persian Gulf “tradition” over modernity and openness to Western culture MAY have been dictated chiefly by whichever option seemed most likely to assure a smoother, cheaper flow of oil. And when you think about it, on the whole have we been disappointed? (OTOH who could have predicted the significance of what that oil money was being used to fund?)

    “. . . beneath the surface uniformity, there’s a lot of tension between a kingdom that isn’t a nation.”

    And what do you suppose might be required for Saudi to become anything even resembling a viable, cohesive, fraternal nation? (Try not to laugh too hard.) Or even such a nation as was bound together – not TOO unamicably, I’m told – by the 1747-1973 Afghan monarchy? Meantime, assuming it was ever possible, have we Westerners been largely helping or hindering that “nationalizing” process over the past 40 years? Is it conceivable that – perhaps in the pursuit of some radical vision of Global Economic Interdependence – we’ve even further entrenched and intensified the reverse process?

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