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Has Saudi Arabia ever been invaded?
Saudi Arabia is a very new country, having been founded in 1932. Yet it has been invaded: Saudi-Yemeni War (1934)
"The Saudi Government has tried all pacific means through diplomatic channels to come to an agreement with the Imam of the Yemen, but he obstinately persists in his aggressive policy by occupying our highlands in Tehama, oppressing their inhabitants, and eradicating all who do not surrender to his rule.
With the British as sponsors, and later the US as a protector, Saudi Arabia has been relatively safe from its lessor neighbors. It also maintains a fairly substantial military.
So your opening statement is shown to be false.
If you mean "Why was Arabia never invaded?", the premise is false: The north-western part, was invaded and conquered by the Romans.
The Lakhmids controlled the north-eastern part of Arabia circa 300 AD; this region was later invaded by the Persians.
The entire region was invaded and conquered by the Ottomans.
Ottoman Arabia ~1914.
If you carefully restrict the definition of "Arabia", one can find regions which were very loosely ruled from outside, and which were, perhaps, never invaded. Any location in the deep desert would probably qualify under this methodology.
According to Arab sources, the Christian Ethiopian kingdom, and/or their client state in Yemen, invaded central Arabia in 570 on what was likely (if it happened) a punitive expidition. This is noteworthy because the army supposedly brought some African elephants with them, so the locals called this The Year of the Elephant.
This in turn is noteworthy because The Prophet Mohammed was (traditionally) born there in the Year of the Elephant.
As for why such things haven't happened more often, you probably ought to look at what resources are there worth fighting over. Its a desert. Until Oil was discovered there in the last 100 years or so, there wouldn't be much reason to go into the interior of Arabia if you weren't wanted.
Saudi Arabia has been invaded as recently as the first Gulf War war by Saddam's forces.
The area invaded is a bit odd. Internationally both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have recognized borders, but some of the area along their borders is jointly administrated by them. It's not really disputed, they just never invested the effort to come up with a better solution.
Battle of Khafji (Wikipedia)
1932 September - Ibn Saud unites his lands as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and takes the King Abdulaziz.
1938 - Oil is discovered and production begins under the US-controlled Aramco (Arabian American Oil Company).
1953 November - King Abdulaziz dies and is succeeded by Crown Prince Saud, whose reign is marked by rivalry with Arab nationalist Egypt in the region and a power struggle with his borther Faisal at home.
1960 - Saudi Arabia is a founding member of Opec (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries).
1964 November - King Saud is deposed by his brother Faisal.
1972 - Saudi Arabia gains control of 20% of Aramco, lessening US control over Saudi oil.
1973 - Saudi Arabia leads an oil boycott against the Western countries that supported Israel in the October Yom Kippur War with Egypt and Syria. Oil prices quadruple.
King Faisal assassinated
1975 March - King Faisal is assassinated by his nephew and succeeded by his brother Khalid.
1979 - Extremists seize the Grand Mosque of Mecca the government regains control after 10 days and those captured are executed.
1980 - Saudi Arabia takes full control of Aramco from the US.
1981 May - Saudi Arabia is a founder member of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council).
Saudi Arabian History and Military
Saudi Arabia’s military has been experiencing modernization with the assistance from foreign powers to protect its oil reserves.
Although the employment of arms for the sake of the tribe and the clan remains a higher ideal than military service to the state, service in the Saudi military is considered an honorable and sought-after profession. Arab warfare stems from nomadic traditions and cultural experiences that glorify the raid, which is a key aspect of Bedouin tribal conflicts. Arab warfare emphasizes the standoff, attrition, deception, and surprise. Since the mid-1960s Saudi Arabia’s defense expenditures have increased dramatically. The country maintains two separate armies. The first is the national guard, or the white guard, which is a conglomeration of tribal levies organized along traditional lines with many active members. Its regular military forces include: an army, a navy, an air force and an air defense force. These forces, trained in part with U.S. assistance, are equipped with modern weapons and advanced aircraft.
Saudi Arabian History
During 570 to 632, the prophet Muhammad lived and died after spreading his new religion of Islam by the time of his death, most Arabian Peninsula tribes ally with him during 632 to 1744, there occurred the post-Islamic expansion and isolation, the region of Saudi Arabia was largely isolated from Arab civilization’s northern development in 1743, Saudi Forces conquer Riyadh principality during 1805 to 1806, Saudi forces capture Mecca and Medina.
In 1902, Abdul Aziz ibn Saud recaptures Riyadh, providing a base from which to expand Saudi control in 1925, Saudi re-conquers Mecca and Medina in 1932, Saudi Arabian Modern Kingdom consolidates within current borders in 1938, oil is discovered in 1979, militant fundamentalists seize the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1990, Iraq invades Kuwait, Saudis invite US and foreign military forces into the country to base their military operations against Iraq in 1996, the bombing of the Khobar Towers in the Eastern province, attributed to Shi’a opposition group, kills 19 US military personnel and wounds hundreds more in 2003, Al-Qaeda bombing campaign begins and continues to 2006.
Saudi Arabian Military Modernization
Today, military service in Saudi Arabia is voluntary and its army accounts for a large number of its total military force. After the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, the military experienced rapid modernization. Until the 1970s, the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) procured aircraft and equipment from the British before the kingdom began to buy warplanes from the United States of America. Today, the RSAF is one of the best-equipped air forces in the Middle East, with several hundred high-performance warplanes. Similarly, ground forces have large numbers of advanced main battle tanks. Army officers are trained at King Abd al-Aziz Military Academy just north of Riyadh. Major air bases are at Riyadh, Dhahran, ?afar al Batin near the border with Iraq and Kuwait, Tabuk in the northwest near Jordan, and Khamis Mushay? in the southwest near Yemen. The Saudi Arabian Army, Air Force, and Navy, are directed by the defense minister, who is the second deputy prime minister.
Saudi Arabian National Guard
The Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG), which has roughly the same troop strength as the army, is essentially an internal security force that can support the regular forces for national defense. The SANG is a unique entity within the Saudi military forces partly because of its command structure, which is separate from the army. The SANG is organized along tribal lines and its power is different from the conventional military. The SANG which is controlled by the Saudi King, is dedicated to preserving the monarchy and its primary peacetime tasks is to guard the country’s oil fields. It is administered separately, and its commander reports to the crown prince. The armed forces employ expatriate personnel in support and training positions.
Saudi Arabian Military Police Organizations
Saudi Arabia has several internal security organizations that include: the Coast Guard, Frontier Force, and a centralized national police force. The organizations report to the Saudi Arabian Ministry of the Interior, which also oversees the nation’s counter-intelligence activities and other major intelligence operations. Although the Police interaction with civilians, especially with foreign persons, have often been described as oppressive, accounts of human rights violations and mistreatments are far less numerous and harsh than those mentioned about other Middle Eastern nations.
Mutawwi Moral Police
The Mutawwi is Saudi Arabia’s moral police force, which is attached to the Committee for the Promotion of pro-Islamic Virtues and the Prevention of anti-Islamic Vices. The Mutawwi moral police force ensures that the populace abides by Islamic law. This police force operates in plain clothes and they enforce the purist Wahhabi standards of human conduct they arrest people behaving in contradiction to Islamic religious law, including violations of strict codes of dress and behavior, particularly socializing between males and females they enforce cessation of business activity during prayer times, which is executed five times everyday the Mutawwi police force may detain a person for 24 to 72 hours before delivering the detainee to Saudi Arabi’s regular police force. Sometimes a detainee may remain in prison for weeks, months, or years.
Analysis: Saudi Arabia
While oil prices and its foreign demand remain high, the Saudi economy will continue growing each year. Budget surpluses will continue along with its currently existing surpluses. The government will increase oil production by a few extra million barrels per day by 2020, leading to superior economic revenues. Therefore, the government’s growing economy will facilitate its military modernization objectives, where it will procure and upgrade numerous weapon systems and platforms.
The United States and Saudi Arabia aren’t allies. They never have been.
The New York Times recently asked Democratic candidates for president if they “still consider Saudi Arabia an ally” after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, ongoing human rights violations and the war in Yemen.
But the question is based upon a false premise: Technically, Saudi Arabia has never been an ally of the United States. The two countries have never signed a treaty or a mutual defense pact, and the relationship between them has never gone beyond a narrow partnership on select issues.
Instead, the myth that Saudi Arabia and the United States are allies was built and perpetuated by two powerful forces — the Americans who owned and ran the oil company in the kingdom and the Saudi state itself. They both exaggerated the importance of U.S.-Saudi interactions, beginning with a brief meeting between the king of Saudi Arabia and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to advance their own interests. But this myth cloaks the reality of a reluctant partnership. Recognizing this would help policymakers — current and future — reimagine U.S. interests and relationships in the region.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was formed in 1932, after King Abdulaziz spent 30 years fighting, negotiating and marrying into alliances that unified the Arabian Peninsula. The first permanent contact from the United States came a year later, when Standard Oil of California negotiated an oil concession with the king’s advisers. At the time, Washington did not have official diplomatic representation in the kingdom, which was less important to the United States than Egypt, Palestine under the British Mandate, and Lebanon under the French Mandate.
In 1945, Roosevelt planned a diversion from his return trip from the Yalta Conference to meet with King Farouk of Egypt and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. A meeting with King Abdulaziz was added to the schedule, and the two leaders met for five hours.
The White House described the meeting as standard, “in line with the president’s desire that heads of government throughout the world should get together whenever possible.” Nine years later, Col. William A. Eddy, an intelligence officer and diplomat who had served as the interpreter for the meeting, wrote a booklet titled “FDR Meets Ibn Saud” for a New York nonprofit. Eddy saw great importance in the meeting, which was probably the highlight of his multiple careers. But even he conceded that for Roosevelt, the only meaning in the meeting was hearing the king’s perspective on Jewish immigration to the Palestine under the British Mandate.
Harry Hopkins, Roosevelt’s commerce secretary and foreign policy adviser, disagreed. He thought the meeting with King Abdulaziz covered nothing new, seeing it as a routine, run-of-the-mill encounter with little influence on U.S. policy, and certainly not the beginning of an alliance.
The actions taken afterward support Hopkins’s assessment. While Saudi Arabia did enter World War II on the side of the Allies two weeks later, the kingdom never contributed to the war effort. In fact, Saudi interests, not a request from Roosevelt, drove this declaration: It earned the kingdom a seat at the United Nations. In August 1945, King Abdulaziz sent his 41-year-old son and foreign minister to the United States to try to forge a relationship with President Harry Truman, but this visit was largely ignored by a preoccupied U.S. government.
In 1946, the United States finally sent an ambassador to Saudi Arabia. But he, like other foreign dignitaries, was forced to reside over 500 miles away from the capital city of Riyadh. At the time, non-Muslims were only permitted to live in Jiddah and on the Aramco base of Dhahran. Dhahran also housed a neglected U.S. air base for 17 years, starting in 1946.
Yet despite this historical reality, the 1945 meeting became the foundation of a myth that the United States and Saudi Arabia were close allies thanks to Aramco, the American-owned and operated oil company in Saudi Arabia. Even today, the company continues to claim that “the significance of this meeting cannot be overemphasized.”
Aramco’s motives, however, had little to do with historical accuracy or U.S. policy. Instead, the company needed Americans to see the Saudis as close partners (if not allies) to justify sending thousands of Americans to a distant desert to pump oil. In addition, when relations between the company and the monarchy occasionally deteriorated in the postwar years, the oilmen relied on American diplomatic assistance to help keep them in the king’s good graces. To persuade the U.S. diplomats to assist, especially at times when Saudi oil was not needed by the U.S. government or market — which was true through 1960 and sometimes after — the company needed the perception to exist that there was a close relationship between the two countries.
Over time, the Saudi government joined Aramco in promoting this myth. Photographs of King Abdulaziz and Roosevelt aboard the USS Quincy are still used frequently in propaganda within Saudi Arabia and in messages aimed at American audiences. This photograph is featured at the Saudi Embassy in Washington. Many in the Saudi population have been taught that this meeting was a formative event in both countries’ histories.
Again, Australia’s geography is its biggest immunity against invaders. The very fact that Australia is an island country deters any potential invaders and scares them away. 70% of its area is covered by the Outback, an endless stretch of desert with no flora or fauna to be seen for thousands of kilometers. Australia’s nearest potential enemy is Japan, which itself is 11000 km away, separated by the Pacific Ocean.
So if the Japanese decide to invade Australia (which it did during World War II and then chickened out), they will have to first navigate through 11000 km of ocean water. Once they have accomplished this daunting task, they will have to face the wrath of the endless Outback. Here one either dies of dehydration and exhaustion or is killed by hidden guerilla warrior groups. By the time the army actually makes it to the populated areas, they will be so weakened that the Australian military will have no problems subduing them.
New Eastern Outlook
P 06.05.2016 U Ulson Gunnar
The BBC in its 2004 article, “Al-Qaeda’s origins and links,” would frankly admit that (emphasis added):
Al-Qaeda, meaning “the base”, was created in 1989 as Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan and Osama Bin Laden and his colleagues began looking for new jihads.
The organisation grew out of the network of Arab volunteers who had gone to Afghanistan in the 1980s to fight under the banner of Islam against Soviet Communism.
During the anti-Soviet jihad Bin Laden and his fighters received American and Saudi funding. Some analysts believe Bin Laden himself had security training from the CIA.
The BBC’s article merely reports what is accepted as common knowledge and documented fact regarding the inception of this now enduring, notorious and shape-shifting terrorist organization… that it was the initial creation of joint US-Saudi interests.
This fact would carry with it an ironic sting in 2001 when Al Qaeda, allegedly led by Bin Laden, struck the Pentagon in Washington and the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, killing nearly 3,000 people and precipitating now over 15 years of global war.
Without doubt, the US and Saudi Arabia created Al Qaeda, and many believe still control the terrorist organization citing that the immense material support it and its subsidiaries require along with the virtual impunity they enjoy as they operate worldwide could only be due to substantial and influential state sponsorship.
Many have postulated that because the 15 years of war following September 11, 2001 have benefited only a handful of special interests both in the US and Europe, as well as in the Persian Gulf, that it cannot be ruled out that these interests were also somehow involved in the attacks that justified this enduring war to begin with.
At least one center of power involved in Al Qaeda’s creation, has been called out by members of the United States government as having continued to support the terrorist organization, including on September 11, 2001. Riyadh.
Before, After, and During 9/11…
Recently making headlines, the US Congress is attempting to make it possible for victims of the September 11 attacks to sue Riyadh over its role in supporting the terrorists allegedly behind them.
15 of the 19 alleged hijackers were Saudis, 2 were from Saudi Arabia’s close ally, the United Arab Emirates, another from Egypt (a Muslim Brotherhood member) and the last from Lebanon. Despite the identities of the hijackers and the obvious ties to both Persian Gulf despots and terrorist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood they openly back, the United States opted to first invade Afghanistan, then inexplicably Iraq in the wake of the attacks.
The US Congress is considering legislation which would enable the families of victims of the September 11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia, presented by the West as its most valuable ally in the Middle East, over alleged links with al-Qaeda terrorists who carried out the attacks on New York and Washington.
The issue had cast a long shadow over the recent visit of President Barack Obama to Riyadh, with the Saudis threatening to sell off $750bn of American assets they hold if the bill is passed by Congress.
The classified pages are in a file titled “Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain Sensitive Narrative Matters”, which have never been published from the findings of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into the attacks which killed 3,000 people and injured more than 6,000 others.
It is a fact that the US and Saudi Arabia jointly created Al Qaeda in the late 1980s. It is also clear that something is being hidden about Saudi Arabia’s role regarding Al Qaeda during the September 11, 2001 attacks.
What is also clear is that since September 11, 2001, Saudi Arabia has continued arming and funding the terrorist group everywhere from Iraq to Libya to Yemen to Syria. In fact, a US Army report investing records related to foreign fighters battling and killing US soldiers during the US occupation of Iraq would reveal that these foreign fighters were primarily from, and backed by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and those currently labeled “rebels” backed by the US and Saudi Arabia in Syria.
West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center (CTC)’s report, “BOMBERS, BANK ACCOUNTS AND BLEEDOUT al-Qa’ida’s Road In and Out of Iraq,” would reveal some very disturbing facts about one of America’s oldest and staunchest allies in the region, Saudi Arabia, and the role Riyadh was playing in the trafficking of arms and fighters from across the region, and into Iraq where they would inevitable clash with, and kill US service members.
The report would establish that Saudi Arabia (41%) and Libya (19% and more specifically, from those regions associated with the so-called “rebellion” in 2011) supplied the most foreign fighters to Iraq. The report also concluded that 46% of all funding came from Saudi nationals, and noted specifically that Saudi Arabia at the very least had little to gain from stemming the flow of its nationals into the ranks of Al Qaeda in Iraq because of what the CTC report claimed was a desire to limit the “perceived influence of Iran.”
Similar arguments are made to defend Saudi funding and arming of Al Qaeda in Syria today, which is far less ambiguous in nature than the CTC report makes out its role during the US occupation of Iraq.
Saudi Arabia Supports Al Qaeda Today
Turkey and Saudi Arabia are actively supporting a hardline coalition of Islamist rebels against Bashar al-Assad’s regime that includes al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, in a move that has alarmed Western governments.
The two countries are focusing their backing for the Syrian rebels on the combined Jaish al-Fatah, or the Army of Conquest, a command structure for jihadist groups in Syria that includes Jabhat al-Nusra, an extremist rival to Isis which shares many of its aspirations for a fundamentalist caliphate.
And as Turkey and Saudi Arabia openly arm and fund a terrorist organization listed and sanctioned by the US State Department, the United States government and its closest European allies continue to ship arms to Saudi Arabia and provide it with both political and military protection on unprecedented scales. In fact, one weapons deal struck between the US and Saudi Arabia constituted the largest ever in US history.
Barack Obama is to go ahead with plans to sell Saudi Arabia advanced aircraft and other weapons worth up to $60bn (£39bn), the biggest arms deal in US history, in a strategy of shoring up Gulf Arab allies to face any military threat from Iran.
With the US and Saudi Arabia having jointly created Al Qaeda, and with Saudi Arabia continuing to this day to openly arm and support the terrorist group worldwide with America’s enthusiastic ($60bn) approval, it is probably not just US-Saudi relations being protected by keeping the missing pages implicating Saudi Arabia in the September 11, 2001 attacks a secret, it is probably the existence of the entire Washington and Wall Street ruling class as well that is at stake.
Regardless of whether the papers are released, or what their contents may hold, that the US is still to this day involved in propping up a regime openly arming and funding an organization responsible for the worst terrorist attack in US history is an indictment not only the moral bankruptcy of the United States, but of the faltering narrative that it is a force fighting terrorism worldwide rather than one spreading it to the four corners of the globe, and one that must be exposed and stopped.
Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
Saudi Arabia Bulldozes Over Its Heritage
F or centuries the Kaaba, the black cube in the center of Mecca, Saudi Arabia that is Islam’s holiest point, has been encircled by arched porticos erected some three centuries ago by the Ottomans, above dozens of carved marble columns dating back to the 8th century. But earlier this month, any vestiges of the portico and columns were reduced to rubble, cleared to make way for the Saudi government’s expansion of Mecca’s Grand Mosque.
The $21 billion project, launched in 2011, is designed to meet the challenges of accommodating the millions of pilgrims who visit Mecca and Medina every year. Around 2 million currently visit during Hajj alone, the annual pilgrimage that happens during the last month of the Islamic calendar. But activists charge that the recent destructions are part of a much wider government campaign to rub out historical and religious sites across the Kingdom.
Over the last few years, mosques and key sites dating from the time of Muhammad have been knocked down or destroyed, as have Ottoman-era mansions, ancient wells and stone bridges. Over 98% of the Kingdom’s historical and religious sites have been destroyed since 1985, estimates the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation in London. “It’s as if they wanted to wipe out history,” says Ali Al-Ahmed, of the Institute for Gulf Affairs in Washington, D.C.
Though the Saudi rulers have a long history of destroying historical sites, activists say the pace and range of destruction has recently increased. A few months ago, the house of Hamza, the Prophet Muhammad’s uncle, was flattened to make way for a Meccan hotel, according to Irfan Al Alawi, executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation. There have even been rumored threats to Muhammad’s tomb in Medina and his birthplace in Mecca.
A 61-page report, published recently in Saudi Arabia’s Journal of the Royal Presidency, suggested separating the Prophet’s tomb from Medina’s mosque, a task “that would amount to its destruction,” Alawi says. “You can’t move it without destroying it.” Moreover, he alleges, plans for a new palace for King Abdullah threaten the library atop the site traditionally identified as the birthplace of Muhammad. Even now, signs in four languages warn visitors that there is no proof that the Prophet Muhammad was born there, “so it is forbidden to make this place specific for praying, supplicating or get [sic] blessing.”
Wahhabism, the prevailing Saudi strain of Islam, frowns on visits to shrines, tombs or religio-historical sites, on grounds that they might lead to Islam’s gravest sin: worshipping anyone other than God. In recent years, the twin forks of Wahhabi doctrine and urban development have speared most physical reminders of Islamic history in the heart of Mecca. The house of the Prophet’s first wife, Khadijah has made way for public toilets. A Hilton hotel stands on the site of the house of Islam’s first caliph, Abu Bakr. Famously, the Kaaba now stands in the shade of one of the world’s tallest buildings, the Mecca Royal Clock Tower, part of a complex built by the Bin Laden Group, boasting a 5-story shopping mall, luxury hotels and a parking garage.
Saudi officials did not respond to interview requests, but in the past, they have said that the expansion project is necessary to cater to the ever-growing number of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, a number forecast to reach 17 million by 2025. When it’s done, the expansion of the mataf, the area where the faithful circumambulate around the Kaaba, will treble its capacity, to 150,000 people the Great Mosque will be able to hold 2.5 million.
Amir Pasic, of IRCICA, the culture organization of the 56-nation Organization of Islamic Conference, points out that the logistics for Hajj dwarf those required for a World Cup or Olympics. “Every time has the right to make changes on the existing urban set-up,” he said. “Every generation tries to develop something. The Kaaba is what’s important.”
If Mecca’s new skyline is impossible to ignore, what with 48 searchlights beaming from the top of the Clock Tower, other changes to the landscape are more insidious. “Everyone’s focused on [the two mosque expansion projects], but people are not focusing on what we’re losing in the meantime,” says Saudi activist, poet and photographer Nimah Ismail Nawwab. After blue markings appear on sites mentioned in Islamic histories, says Nawwab, then the bulldozers come–often in the dead of night. “Everything happens at night,” she told TIME by phone from Saudi Arabia. “By the next day in the morning, the monument is gone.”
It’s not just in Mecca, either. Over a year ago, the split in Mount Uhud, north of Medina, where Muhammad was said to have been carried after being wounded in the famous Battle of Uhud was filled with concrete. A fence went up at the base of the mountain, warning would-be visitors that it was just a mountain, like any other. Six small mosques in Medina where Muhammad is believed to have prayed have been locked. The seventh, belonging to Islam’s first caliph Abu Bakr, has been razed to make way for an ATM. Nawwab, along with a small group of historians and activists, has tried to raise awareness by photographing sites and starting a Twitter campaign, but says “it’s a losing battle, despite the fact that what’s being lost is not just Muslim history, but human history.”
When the Taliban blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan in 2001, they were met with international condemnation. The response to the demolition activity in the Kingdom, by contrast, has been decidedly muted. “When it comes to Mecca, as far as we are concerned it’s a Saudi question,” says Roni Amelan, a spokesman for UNESCO, the United Nation’s cultural body. The Saudi government has never submitted Mecca for inclusion on the list of World Heritage Sites. As UNESCO’s mandate requires a respect for the sovereignty of individual countries, “we don’t have a legal basis to stake a position regarding it,” adds Amelan.
Muslim governments, perhaps mindful of the power of the Saudis to cut their quotas for how many pilgrims can attend Hajj, have been strikingly silent on the issue. The Organization of the Islamic Conference has also been noticeably quiet on the destruction of the Saudi campaign. One exception has been Turkey, whose Ottoman heritage has also long been under threat. In September, Mehmet Gormez, head of the Dinayet, Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, told journalists that he told Saudi’s minister of Hajj that the skyscraper overshadowing the Kaaba “destroys history,” the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News reported. “History is being destroyed in the Holy Land each day,” he added.
For pilgrims old enough to remember the dangerous crush of crowds in the 1980s, the spate of new development may be welcome, offering a chance for comfort on their spiritual journey. For other Muslims, like Ziauddin Sardar, author of the recent Mecca: The Sacred City, the vigor of the Saudi campaign springs from financial jitters. “The Saudis know the oil is going to run out,” he said. “Hajj is already their second major source of income, after oil. They look at Dubai, and Qatar, and ask ‘what are we going to do?’ And they say, ‘We have Hajj, and we’re going to exploit it to the max.'”
Carla Power is the author of If the Oceans Were Ink: A Journey to the Heart of the Quran (Henry Holt: April, 2015)
King Abdul Aziz and US President meeting in 1945
King Abdul Aziz knew that the US would soon emerge as a superpower and thereby he decided to hold great relations with them.
He held a meeting with Franklin Roosevelt, the then president in 1945. The meeting marked the start of great relations between the two states.
SHARE THE CREDIT, GEN. SCHWARZKOPF
It is not unusual after a war for generals to magnify their own achievements and belittle those of others. I regret to say that Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, my comrade-in-arms during the Persian Gulf war, has succumbed to this temptation.
My quarrel with his book, ''It Doesn`t Take a Hero,'' is that he gives himself all the credit for the victory over Iraq while running down just about everyone else. Above all, Gen. Schwarzkopf wants to be seen as the sole supreme commander and finds it hard to acknowledge that this was not the case. In the gulf, as in every war, ''victory has a thousand fathers.'' It is unfortunate that more of those thousands cannot be found in his book.
Gen. Schwarzkopf commanded the U.S. and British forces. I commanded the forces of Saudi Arabia and its gulf allies, of France (during the defensive phase), of Egypt, Syria, Senegal, Niger, Morocco, Pakistan, Czechoslovakia, Poland and all the other contingents which made up the coalition.
It was a difficult task, as each of those forces came with its own values and traditions, its different types of armaments and missions. But Schwarzkopf and I had a successful and friendly partnership, and I would like to think we both acquitted ourselves well.
However, there are so many inaccuracies and slanted remarks in his book that I feel I must set the record straight.
In the book, one is asked to believe that Schwarzkopf alone perceived the urgency of the threat from Iraq, that he alone devised the war plans and orchestrated every phase of the campaign. He minimizes the role of my own command in achieving victory and he also has critical things to say about several other participants.
I am in no position to evaluate his criticisms of his own government, including its State Department and Central Intelligence Agency and the secretary of defense, but in reading the book one has to wonder whether there was no one else in the gulf war picture capable of doing anything right.
In objecting to Gen. Schwarzkopf`s account of the campaign, I am not, of course, questioning the crucial role of the United States.
Without the United States Kuwalt would not have been freed and quite possibly Saudi Arabla would have been invaded. This would have had
catastrophic consequences for the region`s stability and the world`s economy. Nor can one deny Saudi Arabia`s effective role. Without Saudi Arabia-without its harbors and airfields, military bases, housing, transportation systems, money, fuel and friendly environment-the war would have been far more difficult and dangerous to wage, if it could have been waged at all.
Regarding my command, Schwarzkopf states that my appointment as Joint Forces Commander was the ''first victory'' of Lt. Gen. John Yoesock and Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Horner. I have the highest respect for these great American commanders-I have always regarded Gen. Horner as the architect of the highly effective air campaign-but in fairness to them, they had nothing to do with my selection. This was the decision entirely of King Fahd, with the advice of our defense minister and our chief of staff.
The calendar puts the issue in perspective. Kuwait was invaded Aug. 2
Gens. Horner and Yoesock arrived in Saudi Arabia with Defense Secretary Dick Cheney Aug. 6. They were in a meeting with the Saudi defense minister but all in attendance will attest that my appointment was not mentioned. On Aug. 8, I was notified of my impending appointment as Joint Forces commander, with the appointment to be effective Aug. 10. I held this command throughout the war. I was not promoted to this post in late October following a meeting between Prince Sultan and Gen. Schwarzkopf, as Schwarzkopf`s book asserts.
What Schwarzkopf says about our town of Al-Khafji, close to the Iraqi border, is of particular interest to me as I was intimately involved. He claims that it was he who pointed out to me that Al-Khafji was indefensible and that its garrison should be pulled out. ''Khalid had wrestled with that . . . but finally he`d agreed,'' he writes.
In fact, I made an evacuation plan for Al-Khafji`s civilians two weeks before Gen. Schwarzkopf arrived in Saudi Arabia to take command of his forces. At the same time, I ordered all our forces to pull back some 40 kilometers to a new defense line near Ras Mishab so as to create a ''killing zone'' for Iraqi tanks if they crossed our border.
It took no genius to recognize that the small community of Al-Khafji, well within range of Saddam`s artillery, was a sitting duck that could not be defended.
Schwarzkopf asserts that, after the Iraqis seized Al-Khafji, he and I were in contact during the battle to retake the town. In fact I had no secure means of communication with him during the battle and did not call him at all. I can now reveal that the reason Iraqi forces managed to take the town in the first place was because of delays in giving our forces the American-controlled close air support they had called for.
Nor does Schwarzkopf mention that I delayed my counterattack for 24 hours in order to evacuate 12 members of two U.S Marine reconnaissance teams hiding in the city.
A theme Gen. Schwarzkopf returns to time and again is that we Saudis were less concerned with the military threat from Saddam than with the possible cultural and religious ''pollution'' caused by the presence of foreign troops on our soil.
Never in its history has Saudi Arabia been occupied by a foreign power. But contrary to Schwarzkopf`s allegation, this historical fact does not translate into lethargy in the face of a genuine threat. Had we not, from the very first moment, been fully alerted to the grave danger from Iraq, King Fahd would not have taken the swift, difficult and momentous decision to call in Western troops. Our people, in turn, would not have supported that decision had they not agreed.
But yes, we were also concerned, and rightly so, about the destabilizing impact on our home front of more than half a million foreign soldiers. Cultural problems could have posed an internal danger. The last thing we-or our allies-wanted was civil unrest in the midst of fighting a war.
Would not President Bush have been deeply concerned had the Los Angeles riots taken place during the gulf conflicts? We in Saudi Arabia made sure that reasons for unrest never occurred.
A telling example of Gen. Schwarzkopf`s attitude is the story he concocts about T-shirts. He alleges that I was greatly distressed by a T-shirt showing a map of Saudi Arabia on which its major cities were marked.
''The location of our cities is classified,'' his book has me saying.
''But every atlas has maps of . . .''
''We don`t allow them inside Saudi Arabia,'' I am supposed to have replied-which is obvious nonsense. Maps showing our cities are easily found in Saudi bookstores and throughout the world.
What I had objected to, and I believe with reason, was a T-shirt showing a map of Saudi Arabla with the Stars and Stripes right in the middle of it. I felt this might suggest to the man in the street that the Americans saw themselves as occupiers of Saudi Arabia. Such a perception would have been harmful to U.S. interests and to Saudi Arabia.
In his book, Gen. Schwarzkopf says that I had stated publicly ''. . . the best approach to war would be an offensive launched out of Turkey.'' He comments that I was ''voicing the old Saudi unease at attacking fellow Arabs,'' and that we had a heated exchange that resulted in our not speaking for 24 hours.
In fact I made no public statement about Turkey, as scrutiny of media records of the period will confirm. In a confidential staff comment on war plans, I had asked a classified question as to whether consideration should be given to contingency plans for a second front north of Iraq.
I suspect the real reason for our row was Schwarzkopf`s irritation at my querying some of his troop deployments in the first draft of the Desert Storm plan, which he may have considered interference with his command.
Gen. Schwarzkopf contends that he ''orchestrated the liberation of Kuwait City.'' The facts are otherwise. As my Arab forces reached the outskirts of the city, I organized them into two task forces, one to attack from the south, the other from the west. The troops were drawn from all the Arab contingents, so that no one country could later claim to have done the job alone.
The book alleges a New Year`s Eve conversation in which I said Syria had decided not to attack once the ground war started. In fact, Syrian commanders made no such statement and neither did I. When the time came to fight, the Syrians acquitted themselves with distinction, joining Saudi forces in breaching Iraqi lines and providing valuable artillery and reserve support.
Many other events described in ''It Doesn`t Take a Hero'' will be remembered differently in Riyadh and in the capitals of other coalition partners.
History is the product of those who write it as well as those who make it. Gen. Schwarzkopf and I have the privilege of doing both. It seems to me we have an obligation to make the detail of our writing fit the reality of our actions.
The Modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
The young Abdulaziz was determined to regain his patrimony from the Al-Rashid family, which had taken over Riyadh and established a governor and garrison there. In 1902, Abdulaziz, – accompanied by only 40 followers – staged a daring night march into Riyadh to retake the city garrison, known as the Masmak Fortress. This legendary event marks the beginning of the formation of the modern Saudi state.
After establishing Riyadh as his headquarters, Abdulaziz captured all of the Hijaz, including Makkah and Madinah, in 1924 to 1925. In the process, he united warring tribes into one nation.
On September 23, 1932, the country was named the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, an Islamic state with Arabic as its national language and the Holy Qur’an as its constitution.
King Abdulaziz (1932-1953)
The legendary King Abdulaziz was a remarkable leader of imagination and vision who set Saudi Arabia on the road to modernization. During his rule, King Abdulaziz started building the country’s infrastructure. He established roads and basic communications systems, introduced modern technology, and improved education, health care and agriculture.
Although King Abdulaziz never traveled beyond the Arab world, he was a highly sophisticated statesman. Foreign leaders and diplomats who met with him came away impressed by his integrity and honesty. He was famous for dispensing with diplomatic niceties in favor of frank and candid discussion. He was just as well known for keeping his promises, whether given to a simple Bedouin or to a world leader. These qualities enhanced his stature as a reliable and responsible leader dedicated to peace and justice.
King Saud (1953-1964)
Abdulaziz’ eldest son Saud acceded to the throne upon his father’s death in 1953. He continued King Abdulaziz’s legacy, creating the Council of Ministers and establishing the Ministries of Health, Education and Commerce. One of King Saud’s greatest successes was the development of education – under his rule many schools were established in the Kingdom, including its first institute of higher education, King Saud University, in 1957.
King Saud also made his mark globally. In 1957, he became the first Saudi monarch to visit the United States. In 1962 he sponsored an international Islamic conference that would become the Muslim World League, headquartered in Makkah.
King Faisal (1964-1975)
King Faisal bin Abdulaziz was a visionary innovator with a great respect for tradition. He initiated the first of a series of economic and social development plans that would transform Saudi Arabia’s infrastructure, especially industry, and set the Kingdom on a path of rapid growth. He also established the first public schools for girls.
In foreign policy, King Faisal showed a firm commitment to the Islamic world. He was a central force behind the establishment in Jeddah in 1971 of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), a group of 56 Islamic countries that promotes Islamic unity and cooperation.
Throughout the turbulent period of the 1960s and 1970s, which included two Arab-Israeli wars and the oil crisis of 1973, King Faisal was a voice for moderation, peace and stability.
King Khalid (1975-1982)
Khalid bin Abdulaziz succeeded King Faisal in 1975. King Khalid also emphasized development, and his reign was marked by an almost explosive growth in the country’s physical infrastructure. It was a period of enormous wealth and prosperity for Saudi Arabia.
On the international stage, King Khalid was a prime mover in forming the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in 1981, an organization that promotes economic and security cooperation among its six member countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
King Fahd (1982-2005)
Under King Fahd bin Abdulaziz, who adopted the title Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Saudi Arabia continued its tremendous socioeconomic development and emerged as a leading political and economic force.
King Fahd was central to Saudi Arabia’s efforts to diversify its economy and promote private enterprise and investment. He restructured the Saudi government and approved the first nationwide municipal elections, which took place in 2005.
One of King Fahd’s greatest accomplishments in Saudi Arabia was a series of projects to expand the Kingdom’s facilities to accommodate the millions of pilgrims who come to the country each year. These projects involved major expansions of Islam’s two holiest sites, the Holy Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, as well as airports and ports.
In the international arena, King Fahd worked actively to resolve regional and global crises. These crises included the Arab-Palestinian conflict, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the Lebanese civil war in addition to conflicts in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Somalia and Kashmir.
As Crown Prince in 1981, he proposed an eight-point plan to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict and give the Palestinians an independent state. The plan was considered one of the first attempts to find a just and lasting settlement that took into consideration the needs of both the Arabs and Israel. It was unanimously adopted by the Arab League at a summit in Fez, Morocco in 1982.
King Fahd also dedicated years of diplomacy to resolving the civil war in Lebanon. He hosted a meeting of Lebanese members of parliament in Taif, Saudi Arabia in 1989. The meeting resulted in a national reconciliation accord signed in Taif that ended the fighting and opened the way for reconstruction with help from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.
Perhaps the greatest international crisis of King Fahd’s rule occurred when Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990. The King played a key role in putting together the international coalition that drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.
King Fahd was also concerned with humanitarian issues. Under his rule, Saudi Arabia provided emergency humanitarian assistance to numerous countries, including Somalia, Bosnia and Afghanistan, as well as countries suffering from natural disasters, such as earthquakes (Turkey in 1999, Iran in 2003) and the tsunami that struck Southeast Asia in December 2004.
King Abdullah (2005 - 2015)
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz acceded to the throne after the death of King Fahd on August 1, 2005.
King Abdullah was born in Riyadh in 1924, and received his early education at the royal court. Influenced by his father King Abdulaziz, he developed a profound respect for religion, history and Arab heritage. His years spent living in the desert with Bedouin tribes taught him their values of honor, simplicity, generosity and bravery, and instilled in him the desire to assist in the development of his people.
As Crown Prince, he traveled widely in the Kingdom and inaugurated a number of projects throughout the country. In 2005 he closely monitored the election process for the country’s municipal councils.
The Prince’s first official visit to the United States was in 1976 when he met with President Gerald Ford. Since then, he has made a number of visits to the United States, including his most recent on June 29, 2010 when he met with President Barak Obama at the White House.
His international diplomacy reflects Saudi Arabia’s leadership role in defense of Arab and Islamic issues and for the achievement of world peace, stability and security. Peace in the Middle East and the plight of the Palestinians are of particular concern to King Abdullah. His proposal for a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, presented at the Beirut Arab Summit in 2002, has been adopted by the League of Arab States and is known as the Arab Peace Initiative.
King Abdullah has been unwavering in his condemnation of terrorism. At the International Counterterrorism Conference in Riyadh in February, 2005, he called for greater international cooperation to fight this global problem.
King Salman (2015 - )
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz acceded to the throne after the death of King Abdullah on January 23, 2015.
King Salman Salman was designated Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and appointed Deputy Prime Minister, by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on June 18, 2012, upon the death of Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz. Crown Prince Salman also served as Minister of Defense.
Since 1956, Prince Salman has chaired various humanitarian and service committees that provide relief from natural and man-made disasters. For his humanitarian services, he has been awarded many medals and decorations, including awards from Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Morocco, Palestine, the Philippines, Senegal, the United Nations, Yemen, and the King Abdulaziz Medal - First Class.
He is a recipient of several honorary degrees and academic awards, including an honorary doctorate from the Islamic University of Madinah, the Prince Salman academic award, and the Kant Medal by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities in appreciation of his contributions to the field of science.