Meaningful change in the Middle East is not possible until the malign influence of the House of Saud is lifted. For nearly eight decades it has served as a bulwark of American power in the region, and in more recent years has emerged as a key ally of Israel. When Israel was devastating Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2009, the Saudi government reserved its criticism for the war’s victims. It has also tried to draw attention away from its own domestic failings by joining Israel and the US in ratcheting up propaganda against Iran. (As with pre-Jan25 Egypt, the accomodation with Zionism resulted in Iran replacing Israel as the chief bogeyman). It has yet to pay a price for the repeated betrayals of its own people and for spreading the brand of conservative, intolerant Salafist Islam that is today fragmenting societies from Beirut to Jakarta. It is time for a reckoning, and as Robert Fisk reports, the date has been set for March 11.
Saudi Arabia was yesterday drafting up to 10,000 security personnel into its north-eastern Shia Muslim provinces, clogging the highways into Dammam and other cities with busloads of troops in fear of next week’s “day of rage” by what is now called the “Hunayn Revolution”.
Saudi Arabia’s worst nightmare – the arrival of the new Arab awakening of rebellion and insurrection in the kingdom – is now casting its long shadow over the House of Saud. Provoked by the Shia majority uprising in the neighbouring Sunni-dominated island of Bahrain, where protesters are calling for the overthrow of the ruling al-Khalifa family, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is widely reported to have told the Bahraini authorities that if they do not crush their Shia revolt, his own forces will.