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Saudi Arabia Plunging into Chaos

Posted November. 10, 2003 22:52,   


After 17 people were killed and 122 wounded in terrorist attacks in the Saudi Arabia capital Riyadh on November 8, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, warned that Al Qaeda may be preparing more attacks on November 9.

The Saudi’s government ordered 4,600 troops to the holy city of Mecca, where the possibility of terrorist attacks is the highest, and warned everyone of an “emergency alert.”

The New York Times reported on November 10 that this time, the targets are not those countries like the U.S. and Britain, but that of Saudi’s ruling royal family, which has participated in the war on Al Qaeda.

The royal family has been criticized by its reckless operations and corruptions. In particular, the extreme fundamentalism, which is indigenous to Saudi as a Muslim suzerain state, is nurturing the terrorists, plunging the country into chaos more than ever.

Saudi’s war on terror: Al-Muhaya residential compound, where the attack occurred on November 8, is not far from Saudi’s palace and royal villa. The fact is related to the message of the terrorist attack, analyzed the foreign networks.

The U.S. government has put some pressure on the Saudi royals to get rid of the terrorist organizations in Saudi Arabia after 15 out of 19 terrorists in the terrorist attack on September 11 in 2001 were revealed to be from Saudi Arabia. The Saudi’s government was said to have exchanged more than 3,500 secret documents in the intelligence and foreign affairs with the U.S. government after the September 11 attack.

After the massive terrorist attack struck Riyadh in May, the Saudi’s government scrutinized and dissipated Al Qaeda, arresting more than 600 suspects.

Pretending political reforms: Last month, Saudi royals announced that there will be a vote to elect half of the representatives in 14 local councils in one year. It will be the first election since Saudi’s foundation in 1932, if realized.

Saudi took the measure after the U.S. criticized that Saudi’s extremely conservative regime has nurtured the radicals and after reformists in Saudi filed a petition to hold the election and expand the freedom of expression.

However, the announcement was criticized to be no more than just a “pretending reform.” because the number of representatives included in the election was only half of them and the rule restricting the voters to be only male over the age of 30 was not changed and the detailed schedule was not suggested.

The fact that the royal family collects more than 60 percent of the taxes and the current frailty of the economy, which depends too much on oil, and the unemployment rate at over 20 percent, are putting pressure upon the royals.

Terrorist organizations trying closely to connect to the dissidents: The day after the announcement of the election was made by the Saudi royals, the largest-scale demonstration ever occurred in Riyadh. Hundreds of young people demanded the reform and resulted in about 300 arrests.

It was in sympathy with the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia (MIRA), a London-based dissident organization which protested strongly against the arrests of opposition party members. The demonstration was exceptional in Saudi Arabia, which was under the strictest control by the government among Middle-East countries and prohibited the demonstrations. Another demonstration was held in such areas as Jeddah, Hail, and Dammam on October 23.

The New York Times reported that the radicals in Saudi Arabia are trying to take advantage of the opposition parties, quoting Wyche Fowler, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi, saying, “If the Saudi’s government fails to stop the radicals, there will be critical fights to overthrow the government.”

If Saudi royals lose this fight, it is highly possible that the radicals like the Taliban regime in Afghanistan will hold the control of Saudi Arabia.

Ki-Tae Kwon kkt@donga.com