by Lexander Magazine Political Staff Writers
On 25 March 1975 Saudi Arabia’s first and, to date, last progressive and pluralist leader, King Faisal, was assassinated by his nephew. The assassination was most shocking to observers not so much because of the brazen violence of the act itself, the King having been shot point-blank during a royal audience rather than a more predictable and low-key poisoning or beheading in the middle of the night, but rather due to the fact that the individual who committed this heinous act, Faisal bin Musaid, had not only been educated in the US, but was considered to have been highly Westernized and harboring progressive attitudes that were certainly not at odds with those of the King himself, which had endeared the vast majority of Saudi Arabia’s diverse population to this benign and populist Sovereign. But with his extensive history of psychiatric treatment and abuse of hard drugs like LSD—which he notoriously also at one time sold while in the US, which got him arrested in Colorado, causing immense scandal back in the Kingdom—it didn’t take long for conspiracy theories to develop to explain why Bin Musaid did what he did, the most common and oft-repeated theory being that it was a Western-orchestrated conspiracy to unseat yet another popular and progressive leader, not unlike Operation Ajax in Iran in 1953. What is certain is that King Faisal, while immensely popular with the Saudi populace at large, was intensely reviled and despised within the Salafist-dominated establishment itself for three principal reasons:
- He initiated far-reaching modernization programs which included universal access to education, regardless of gender, social welfare, and most controversially, introduction of new technologies such as television which were virulently opposed by the Salafist (Wahhabi) leadership.
- He was opposed to Salafism, abolished slavery (which most Salafist sects even today continue to enshrine as a fundamental aspect of their creed), preached Orthodox Sunni theology (which is at odds with any form of Salafism/Wahhabism, which is a distortion of Islamic orthodoxy), promoted Sunni-Shia solidarity, and banned discrimination along tribal, religious and gender lines.
- He was a passionate advocate of a theologically neutral Pan-Islamism that embraced all Muslim nations and societies and opposed the exporting of Salafist propaganda, and he was more than willing to sacrifice his relations with the United States and United Kingdom in order to promote Pan-Islamic solidarity.
Since the assassination of King Faisal, successive Saudi monarchs have reversed every single one of Faisal’s reforms to the point of even introducing more authoritarian and draconian measures that have no precedent not only in Islam, but neither in any of the traditional tribal cultures of the Arabian Peninsula. Salafism has since been consistently reaffirmed as the sole state religion of the Saudi regime and since the 1980s, the Saudi establishment has spent billions on exporting this hideously inhuman cult outside its borders in its bid for world domination.
For Saudi Arabia, dominating the Muslim world is not enough. With the exception of Oman, which is a close ally of Iran, they already indirectly rule every Arab monarchy of the Persian Gulf: Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates—all of these are mere satellite states of the Saudi regime, far more so than even the relationship of the former East Bloc regimes to the Soviet Union. They exert (or at least attempt to exert) a great amount of influence in Egypt and Jordan via the Muslim Brotherhood, which despite recent official disavowals is still firmly controlled by key Saudi demagogues. The Saudi regime devotes countless millions of dollars a year toward converting Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian Muslims throughout the world to Salafism, building mosques, hospitals and community centers for them, mainly for the purpose of encouraging them to accept slave labor in the Kingdom and its Persian Gulf satellites. Given all of this, you’d think Saudi Arabia has at least some sort of dominant position in the Muslim world, yet it most certainly does not. Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, is stringently opposed to Salafism and attempts to popularize Salafist ideology among Indonesians have been abject failures, as they have likewise been in Malaysia. In Palestine, even the most radical and violent Islamist groups, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have refused to convert to Salafism in exchange for access to virtually limitless Saudi financial and military backing. Even in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, where the Afghan Mujaheddin, much of which was funded and armed by Saudi Arabia, with many foreign volunteers from across the Arab world, the Saudi regime was not able to dominate the entire resistance—Ahmad Shah Massoud, an ethnic Tajik, the most visible and publicly known veteran of the Mujaheddin, was opposed to Salafism to the extent that despite being a Sunni, he strongly aligned himself with Shi’a Iran and continually affirmed his opposition to any attempt by Saudi Arabia to try to establish Safalism in Afghanistan. Likewise in Bosnia during the Balkan Wars, President Alija Izetbegovic, a devout Sunni, condemned attempts by Saudi Arabia to impose Salafism on the Bosniak populace, going so far as to request assistance from Iran in not only protecting the Bosnian Muslim population from genocide, but also in combating the illegal presence of Saudi-funded jihadist “volunteer” militias that had been suspiciously entering Bosnian territory via Croatia that were also massacring Serbian civilians. The formation of Al Qaeda in 1988 toward the end of the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan, and of the Taliban later in 1994, marked a significant shift in the Saudi strategy to export Salafism around the globe. The two groups were very much formed to complement each other, with Al Qaeda being the principal vehicle to propagate Salafism internationally through terrorism, and the Taliban as a vehicle toward establishing an ideal Salafist state that would serve as a model for the future Caliphate as envisioned by the House of Saud. In this grand experiment, the primary accomplices assisting the Saudi regime were and continue to be Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates—in particular, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi—and Qatar. The exact involvement of Western intelligence services such as the CIA and MI6 in these post-Soviet affairs is muddy and convoluted, but there is considerable evidence pointing to their early support for the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in 1996, though mainly due to the fact that at the time, the Taliban was largely viewed by most governments as the only reasonable alternative to the widespread violence, rape and bloodshed being orchestrated by the Afghan warlords across the country. Much of the Afghan population originally supported the rise of the Taliban for precisely this reason, in a manner very closely resembling that of the takeover of Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge. In exactly the same fashion, the celebration and euphoria of the populace quickly morphed into horror and dread when they realized that the Taliban were not the voice of sanity and progress that they had bargained for.
Coming up in Parts II and III: How and when the real agenda of the Taliban and Al Qaeda came to be revealed as a long-term Saudi geopolitical strategy in attempting to contain Iranian and Shi’a influence in the Muslim world and beyond, and the consequent rise of Boko Haram post-9/11 at the hands of Saudi intelligence operatives as an even more insane method of countering growing Iranian influence and Shi’a proselytism in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.