Saudi Arabia in the 1980s

But what happened since then ? Isn't there a group called CDLR?
And what about CACSA?
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The arab peninsular is divided into five types of scenery. AN NAJD The central plateau. Riyadh represents typical urban scenary with enormous government buildings and flats and road systems with flyovers and tunnels. Parts of it are modelled on Paris (concrete canyons) and others on Isfahan. The diplomatic quarter is something special. The Riyadh province includes Yamama, the home of Mohammed the liar. AL JABAL The mountains AT TILAL The small hills, which comprise distinct regions, depending on whether these hills are mde up of sand or boulders. The Red Sea coast is bordered by just such a region, and this stretches for many kilometers. More inland areas may well be surrounded by boulder hills, made up of volcanic rocks, such as granite, or gabbro. AL NAFUD These are vast areas of shifting sand dunes, where to lose ones way is to lose ones life. AL WADI Vast drainage areas which can become flooded from time to time. There are also smaller wadis which are like scratches in the surface. Here the farmers can eke out a precarious living, unless helped by money and modern technology. Whatever the scenary, the underlying structures can easily be seen. The arab language is rich in words to describe different types of sand, although they may not match up precisely with modern geological classifications. The high mountains in the south west (Asir) reach towards the Yemen and they are covered with trees, called Arar. This is a type of juniper tree. There are also rivers and streams in these mountains, since rainfall is quite regular. Inland, these mountains give onto enormous deserts. There is almost no rain in the interior, and conditions seem extremely hostile to life. But even this desert is good for a few things. Date palms and camels formed the mainstay of the traditional economy. The water rights were important, and controlled by the local chiefs, but these themselves had often been very poor men in the past. There were frequent migrations to the periphery, and from the periphery to the rest of Asia, and also Africa. The wadis comprised parts of these deserts. Here were watercourses, and if the water was not on the ground, then it was not so far under the ground. The greatest of all is perhaps the Wadi Dawasir, which rises not so far from places like Leila, or Khamsin, which lie at the end of the great necklace, the Tawayk Escarpment which runs hundreds of miles to the south east of Riyadh, the capital city. Some of these wadis are the sites of property run by enthusiastic farmers who see new means of becoming rich by exporting food to the USSR. Admittedly the food is produced at horrendous cost, but at least it is being produced. Unlike a communist country, efforts to destroy agriculture are proceeding at a more subtle pace. Perhaps the ground water will not last, but at least efforts are being made to throw money at agriculture. Some quite beautiful efforts are being made to grow trees, and generally improve things. Landscape artists are being called in to work on enormous projects around palaces, schools and military hospitals. Even the American National Parks service has been involved through JECOR, the joint economic commission. This is perhaps seen as some to treat Saudi Arabia like a fifty first state, but then many of the technocrats had an american university education. In earlier times, a british education was more cheaply obtained in India, where many merchants sent their sons to school. Urban skills such as effective trading were best learnt near to the big centers, which may well have been Istanbul, and Bombay in the past. Jeddah was on the sea route, and it benefitted enormously through the opening of the Suez Canal. To commemorate trade, the Jam Joom center has been built to give local visitors a taste of Singapore style shopping. The Turks had enjoyed a split empire, until the canal was built by the french. The british quickly took over the installation because of its strategic importance to India, and later they did their best to sabotage the turkish railway which was to connect Makkah and Madina with Istanbul. Nowadays everyone arrives in the peninsular by air. It is cheaper and more reliable than land transport. Gone are the days of being carried from Damascus by litter, as the wealthier pilgrims travelled in earlier times. The prices most have been back-breaking, even if the journey was not. Once there, the people can enjoy the benefits of a 'hard currency'. The arab riyal can be used by everyone one to buy things of value. For food and clothing, the prices are not too expensive. The things may be imported from India, or Hong Kong without too much trouble. There is no hassle about the money which is being used. Indeed the hassles come from a quite different quarter to the banks, and currency changers. These other authorities are the Mutawwa, or religious zealots. They can form their own police, and beat women who do not cover their face in public. These mutawwa are a thorn in the side of many members of the technocracy, to such an extent that they are practically banned from some of the big company towns such as Al Jubail, or even Jeddah. But at least a shopper is unlikely to get mugged by a member of the proletarian underclasses. Labour is quite heavily controlled, and Saudi will try to export its unemployment problems, merely by ending worker's contracts. The country takes its place in a modern world economy, using the highest quality of computerised control in its many manufacturing operations. These are just like american or european factories, and indeed many factories have been assembled lock stock and barrel as 'turn-key' projects. The government just pays the money, and turns a key to make the whole thing work. At least that is the theory. In fact the people who sold the factories are not necessarily so keen to see their products marketed, and try to restrict the Saudis only to their own domestic trade. This itself can be quite good, since the hajj pilgrimage of all moslems can put Saudi Arabia high up in the tables of service exporting countries. Islam can be viewed as a marketable commodity, especially if it can lead to human progress. Such are the wonderful effects of a rationally planned economy that the casual visitor is overwhemed by the abundence of goods in the shops, the wide roads, big hospitals and modern universities, and courtesy and honesty of the shop keepers. Although prices may seem marginally higher than Hong Kong, there is almost no chance of getting ripped off if buying consumer goods. Large capital projects are another affaire. The Gulf war lead to budgetary problems during the 1980's, and many big contracters, especially the koreans, were payed very late, if at all. This is quite a severe problem for many N.I.C.'s who have debts to collect, since they come lower down on the list of priorities than places like Germany, or the U.K. There are three large universities in Saudi Arabia. These are the UPM of Dahran (University of Petroleum and Minerals), King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, and King Saud University in Riyadh. The UPM has recently been renamed the King Fahd University. This is quite in keeping with english tradition, where many educational institutions are named after monarchs. At none of these places are the students free to form associations. In fact it is only on the campus of UPM that women are allowed to drive. There are reports that the roads on this campus are quite hazardous, although the accidents are most likely caused by excessive speed which favours neither sex more than the other. The student population is academically as good as can be found anywhere in the world. The catchment areas for these universities has been made wide by a very liberal policy of scholarships for foreign students. This largesse was at its most generous during the mid eighties. As an ideology islam had to compete with communism and marxism. This may seem surprising in the nineties, but it is certainly true to say that hands were raised in horror when arab countries were being built up with a Moscow trained elite. Even poor countries like Czechoslovakia, or Roumania were able to give scholarships to third world students. And these scholarships would of course be a source of resentment for the local population. The Saudis did not really need to worry about this. In fact it is hard for a Saudi to get a job in his own economy. Just about all the jobs that a beginner may do are already being done by foreigners. There is a very small Saudi proletariat. Every Saudi wants to have his own video shop, run by an english speaking filipino, and a part share in a transport company. Despite the enormous national wealth, there are a few young saudis that cannot be absentee landlords to a video shop.Some of them even have to take taxis because they cannot afford cars. Some of them don't care so much. They can have an interesting life without being big consumers. The Gulf Arabs have seen a welfare state that is unrivalled world wide. Class struggle for them can only seem an insignificant detail in the real struggle to survive. Oil prices have dominated their economies, and at the hight of the gulf war, delegates from Iran and Iraq would sit alongside others, at the same table, to discuss prices and quotas. After oil, there is great enthusiasm for religion. The hajj is equivalent to one of the greatest football matches of all time, and rowdy behaviour during the pilgrimage is the norm rather than the exception. The saudis have to weigh the balance between hajjis and hippies. Iran had the hippies, and Saudi the hajjis. The Saudis have computerised immigration controls designed by experts from UNESCO. The computers are backed up by a rich level of beaurocracy, although the embassies sometimes get attacked. The embassies of all countries which deal with Saudi Arabia are interested in capitalism. Dynamic trading is almost a state religion there. This is true to such an extent that the saudis describe their own economy as 'free'. Perhaps they slightly hide the fact that for many on fixed contracts, their spell in Saudi Arabia may seem like a jail term. Labour camps are set up in remote sites where married men live in shacks, or big container boxes, while their wives live in asiatic slums. In fact, for the proletariat, there are many faults with the economy. Trades unions are banned by the labour law, which is supposed to be based on the Sharia. Politics based on class rather than religion is anathma for a moslem. Even politics itself is a tricky business. The usual way of politics is fratricide within the family out there. It may seem that the rich have no proletarian class, but it has to be remembered that the technocrats are themselves very insecure in their own jobs. None of them want revolution. None of them want the americans to go while the relationship is profitable. A joint economic policy based on Washington and Riyadh is quite alright as long as the shops are full. The technocrats benefit from a two way exchange between Saudi and the U.S.A. Some of these see the advantage of a liberal democracy, even to the extent of basing themselves in the U.S.A. The Saudis have acquired the pinnacle of U.S. technology despite the protests of the zionist lobby. A ride in the shuttle by a prince who was protected by allah, and protection against the isrealis by AWACS planes. One can only assume that the zionists also benefitted from the sale of the AWACS. At least they could know what the 'best arab intelligence' really was. Marxism is an alien and forbidden culture to the moslem, so it is naturally quite interesting, at least for the educated ones. There were quite a few in saudi arabia who saw Iran's point in the gulf war. The heavy US intervention in the gulf was seen as favouring Iraq which seemed just as stupid as Iran to many. The Saudi rulers were certainly happy that Saddam was fighting against the iranians, rather than against their own forces. Of course the meccans might be happy to see something nasty to happen to Riyadh, but not to lose their proportion of the oil income. Technology has been made to serve man in this citadel of reactionary forces. Islam has triumphed against communism in Afghanistan, and the world will be able to see the true face of islam as the victors fight for the spoils of war. You can find many verses in the koran referring to just this type of the division of property. The only problem for the Saudis is that Najibullah confesses to be a moslem. They may realise that they are being duped into buying stuff that is even more dangerous than heroin from the americans. Modern weapons of war are alien to the peacful character of many people including moslems. 'Peace upon you' is the greeting of a man out there and this does not go with being the conduit of arms in a proxy war. The climatic changes threatening the world are unlikely to be very noticeable in a place with such a harsh climate as Saudi Arabia. Environmental degradation will only be seen if the wells run dry, or the desalination plants stop working. Maintenence of this rather artificial set up takes money, and the people will certainly be angry at any threat to their new found life-style. The gulf arabs would sooner have pollution than pearls, because the working conditions on the pearl dhows were terrible. This means that the people would certainly have any right to be angry about bad management of the oil reserves, or any other resources. Tensions between the people are likely to arise most during the big religious occassions, and perhaps, football matches. Ashura day, when the shiites whip themselves is always a day for a strong police profile in Saudi Arabia. Most shiites live on the Gulf, and they are generally quiet. For the rest, they seem happy enough with their religion. Even the youth are unlikely to burn down the mosques, although the authorities would prefer that to letting the mosques become centres of free discussion. Many moslems, Saudi and otherwise, are willing to accept very wide variations in the observation of faith. A man may pray in secret, or not at all, and still be a good moslem. The practice of 'Taqayya' or dissimulation is a quite accepteable behaviour, at least for a shiite. Sorcery, magic and astrology are common forms of folk behaviour, and all of these habits are imported with the foreigners. The wahhabites and the Saud family have done their best to extirpate these practices, but heavy handed efforts to coerce people into the mosques seem archaic techniques when people are experiencing the shrinking world. The japanese soap opera 'Oshin' was shown without incident in Saudi Arabia, although when it came to Iran the media managers responsible were thrown into jail to await a whipping. The reason for this perhaps is that 'Oshin' came out with a very anti-militaristic message. The truth is that many technocrats, workers and women all want peace. The moslem world is divided into two spheres: the 'Dar Al Salaam', and the 'Dar Al Harb'. The translations are 'house of peace', and 'house of war'. This is well known to certain media people including pop-musicians. In theory the 'Dar al Harb' is the non-moslem world, but war seems to respect neither sex nor religion. The Saudis know this, because they are a major reception area for refugees. Close by are Afghanistan, Eritrea, Sudan, Syria, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, and Turkey. They even welcomed Shamyl, one of the last islamic rebels of tsarist Russia. As the center of the islamic world there are great moral pressures on the Saudis to share there good fortune with the moslem victims of persecution. Even the Philippines are close by in the sense of the arabic expansion to the far east. The Saudis had little to do with this, but there economy includes plenty of immigrants from the Yemeni-Omani coast of the Arabian sea. Capitalism was always important round the periphery of Arabia, but not so much in the center. One of the things which could be bought was labour in the form of slaves. Just like the old testament of the jews, so the koran allows for slaves. Saudi Arabia was one of the last countries of the world to give up slavery, although there are some who would deny that they have done so. Even the Saudi's own interior ministry has had difficulty in controlling the employers and preventing them from imposing slave like conditions on their workers. Some workers do very dangerous jobs. Sweeping the roads, or driving trucks is dangerous, because of the high risk of accidents. Mortality risk is high on these magnificant highways. Long distances and fatigue can hypnotise the driver. Altogether a good argument for letting the women share the responsibility, but alas even Iran has few women truck drivers. The men prefer to hire sex-starved foreign drivers for their women folk or at least this is what things may seem. In fact the whole edefice of Sharia Law is made very shaky by such absurdities, and the Saudis have to fear reform just as much as revolution. In fact reform is more dangerous to them than revolution, since the Mecca rising of 1400 A.H. was quite easily suppressed. It was rather like the gesture of Mishima's suicide during recent Japanese history. The economy went from strength to strength. The moslem fanatics who had taken the mosque had no real popular support. The shop keepers whose business was hurt were more interested in their profits than the words of the prophet. For many the words alone were enough to justify their blessings. None of the people really wanted their country to be taken back to the middle ages. For a country with a hard line moral code, there is a fantastic amount of video eroticism. There is an enormous gap between public morality and private behaviour, and this is exceptionally true of many of the princes. Some of them like to sell cocaine in the more exclusive circles of western capitals, while others are keener to keep a low profile and enjoy themselves. Unfortunately even the princes are not so free. It is standard practice to recall them all during intense periods of national crisis. While the oil wealth remains, the Saudis can bribe the people. The bribes are also directed at the technocrat, some of whom may be able to live in special compounds where the religious laws are not so severely enforced. There are plenty of very orthodox moslems who are willing to allow complete religious tolerance in the belief that this will ultimately bring in more converts. These people are common enough in Saudi society, and they bitterly oppose the fanatics. The Saudi oil wealth ultimately remains on being able to charge high prices to their customers, many of whom may be poor, and without energy reserves. They are willing to take payment in cash or services, or a mixture of both. All of the big infra-structure projects are built by armies of foreign workers, many of whom live in barrack like accomodation. The place acts as a magnet to the intellegentsia of many places. India, Pakistan, Egypt and Turkey all contribute to the economy. Unfortunately many of them do not remain so long. Job turnover is high, and the reason is that many of those who value the freedom of thought have to seek opportunities elsewhere than in a 'one party religious state'. In this the Saudis are opposed by Muammar Ghadafi, who has practically denounced the Saudi rulers as heretics. The presence of foreign armed forces on Saudi soil seems a particular humiliation to arabs whose countries were beaten into submission by italian armies. It took years of epic struggle to subdue the Libyans, and it was a proving ground for european style fascism during the 1920's. The colonisation of Saudi Arabia by the USA has not taken place by armed force, but Muammar wants to see a more specifically islamic line being taken by the arab countries. And to Muammar, religion means more than just compulsory prayers. The koran may be the subject each man's own personal meditation, just as it was for the prophet. This attitude is quite a contradiction to that of the Saudis. His own international appearences are quite in keeping with this challenge to the Saudi religious establishment. The wahhabites do not yet dare to face the public with female members of the militia. Four wives is a compromise. There is no limit to the number of wives a moslem may have, but Muammar realises that plurality of wives should make a man love all women more, including the old and the weak. His way of showing that love is to try to impose western ideas of women's rights on a traditional society by command. He probably knows that this is much more difficult than keeping America at bay. Because Muammar is not afraid to write a book explaining his theories, he is a formidable opponent to the Saudis. He is known to have great personal friendships with some of the iranian shiite leaders and this makes him suspect. He has also kept the loyalty of many foreigners who worked in Libya, especially americans. Saudi Arabia attempts a sort of information quarantine. Books and videos are supposed to be controlled, but are widely circulated in practice. It is a moot point as to just what is brought in by the americans. Whisky may only be the start of the rot. Banned books and media have their scarcity and snob value. The religious fanatics cannot fool all the moslems, and there are incidents in Saudi Arabia where the over-zealous muttawa may be beaten up by those he is trying to drive to prayer. One may question whether 'drug wars' are ever likely to come to Saudi Arabia. There is a certain amount of fog over this issue. The Yemenis use a lot of Qat, a shrub which produces an ephedrine like stimulant, but most of the drug addicts have enough money to pay for their habits without resorting to crime. There are reports in the local press of tetoxification clinics, and also of armed hashish convoys which ply the roads from Jordan and the Lebanon. There are sometimes gun battles between the police and the smugglers, since there is a death penalty for drug traffiking. Despite this the drugs get through. The big profits are enough to see to that. The big gulf between private and public behaviour helps the princes to disguise their various addictions. Public displays of gambling are quite OK, because the moslems practically invented the civilised ambience of a gambling saloon. All sorts of card games are immensly popular amongst the people and the princes. There were even some video arcades in the eighties, but the fashion quickly passed with the wide availability of personal computers. Public houses are generally run by the yemenis in Saudi Arabia. It is possible to spend the evening watching television, drinking cofee and smoking a hookah. The pipes are very big, and they are carried to the table by a waiter. Statistically there are not so many of these places in Riyadh, but there are many more in the villages. The yemenis often make up the bulk of the clients and the social life is not so bad. From the point of view of an orthodox Marxist-Leninist, the Yemeni proletariat would appear to feature as the vanguard of the working classes in that part of the world. Indeed the PDRY sees itself as just that, then they anticipated Baku and the soviet caucasian republics. After the brief civil war of 1985 they decided to rush into unification with their northern neighbour. The arabs are not stupid now, because they have been working on reunification as their dependence on Saudi Arabia lessens. With some of their own oil, the people can benefit. The Asir, or right, is in Saudi Arabia, while the Yameen, or left is with Yemen. The most densly inhabited part of Saudi Arabia is the Asir. This is also the most beautiful part. The climate is quite like parts of Europe, and it is completely different from the scorching desert.


The firing of sheikh Yamini, the oil minister highlighted the problems which Saudi Arabia has in making its foreign policy. It must be seen as the staunch guardian of american capitalism in the middle east and the second greatest power of the whole area, after India. The Saudi's were in at the setting up of the United Nations in 1945, and their budding oil industry came on stream at an opportune time to cash in on the Mossadegh nationalisation in the 1950's. Kuwait of course also benefited. The Iranians had elected a popular government, which nationalised the british owned oil industry in Iran. The US and England acted to further their own interests, and with CIA help the shah was restored. The whole crisis developed over a year, and this gave added impetus to the first major stage of the oil industry. The desert between Kuwait and Riyadh was shared out. There was no fighting this time. Tribal raids were to become a thing of the past, because english colonial rule had shown much better ways of robbery. Enormous projects were initiated in the mineral extraction industry. The lines of the ruling commercial elite were established just after the second world war, and the big pipeline contracts saw millions made overnight. The regional financial centers included Houston and Beirut. The americans got very good treatment in Saudi Arabia, and consolidated their grip on the gulf after the overthrow of Mossadegh. They showed that they could act as king-makers, taking their role over from the british. With friends like that, who needs enemies. The cultural hold of the USA on the gulf countries is frightening the people. They all read these horror stories of 'crack' and 'heroin' addiction, and they don't want those horrors in their own pure islamic societies. The dilemma is that Saudi Arabia must hold the top position in the league of 'islamic countries' while also acting in the interests of the west. This means that it must try to copy its institutions from Washington, while it needs to throw out what is bad as quickly as possible. Unfortunately they tend to keep out the good while letting in the bad. For example many books are banned or censored, while many poisonous chemicals are actually starting to be made there. They have also acted as a sort of free sales zone for arms manufacturers, despite the fact that war is not in their best interests. Many of the worlds islamic organisations are based in Jeddah. The Islamic Development Bank, and the Organisation of Islamic Conference owe their whole existance to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are able to prove their leading position by trying to keep to koranic punishments such as amputation, and stoning, although now the stoning may simply be a more gradual process of being buried alive by bulldozer. This unhealthy 'competition of punishments' goes on while the islamic beaurocracy has failed to tackle the real problems such as the Iran-Iraq war, or Lebanon, or Isreal and Palestine, or Sudan's Debt. One may almost ask whether the economically feeble try to kow tow to Saudi Arabia by deciding to emulate their Sharia Laws. Iran is able to set the pace by enormous numbers of shootings, hangings, and public spectacles of whippings, but many moslems of the twentieth century question these practices. The conditions of year zero were different to those of now. If people are to be executed for their crimes, then this must be shown on public television. This means the same sort of law must apply to the leaders, but it never does. The leaders will always attempt to defend themselves from the law of god by force of arms in this life. They cannot in the next. When the prophet claimed to be the last prophet, he meant it. No one else has a right to claim advantage by being closer to god any more. This is the message of both Jesus and Mohammet. A society without big style leaders is really part of the deal. A literal copying of the oasis of Yathrib in the year zero would be environmentally sound. It would also mean creating many more such oases to accomodate the increased population, or else a series of rulers like Stalin, Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein. The trouble is that 'islamic' practices cease to be islamic when enforced by the coercion of a government state machine. The people of Saudi Arabia know this already. Despite the glaring exposure of this type of hypocracy, the Saudis continue to back these punishment regimes. Pakistan and Sudan both want Sharia law, and they both want the Saudis and Americans to give them more money, and arms. This means that Saudi Arabia is trawled by both people who want to sell arms and also those who are running away as a result of this dangerous trade. People from all over Africa and Asia are there. The chinese sell rockets, while the Afghanis come to ask for more. The Sudanese and also the Eritreans have asked for military help. In fact the OIC has been used as a military forum, although without much success. For the moslem maybe the rockets are symbolic stones, and the russian or falangist enemies are symbolic harlots who should be stoned to death. THE ISLAMIC STATES GDP POP. GDP/CAP SAUDI ARABIA 95050 11.50 8850 101775 TURKEY 48820 50.20 1080 54216 ALGERIA 58180 21.90 2250 49275 PAKISTAN 28240 96.20 380 36556 IRAN 27000 44.60 800 35680 EGYPT 30550 48.50 610 29585 LIBYA 25420 3.80 7170 27246 U.A.E. 28120 1.40 19270 26978 KUWAIT 21710 1.70 14480 24616 IRAQ 18000 15.90 1100 17490 SYRIA 16370 10.50 1570 16485 BANGLA-DESH 16110 100.60 150 15090 MAROCCO 11850 21.90 560 12264 TUNISIA 7240 7.10 1190 8449 OMAN 8820 1.20 6730 8076 SUDAN 6930 21.90 300 6570 JORDAN 3450 3.50 1560 5460 YEMEN 3700 8.00 550 4400 NIGER 1580 6.40 250 1600 MALI 1100 7.50 150 1125 YEMEN PDR 900 2.10 530 1113 MAURITANIA 600 1.70 420 714 PLO 0 0.00 0 0 CHAD 1200 5.00 0 0 AFGHANISTAN 0 0.00 0 0 This table is based on World Bank figures published in 1987, but it has to be admitted that the world bank is unable to make very reliable estimates about several countries here. War ravaged Afghanistan for example or the PLO itself are not easily represented. Despite limitations, it can be seen that the Saudi delegate is the most important member of the IDB, in that most money is represented here. Other important arganisations are the Organisation of Petroleum eExporting Countries (OPEC) and the Gulf Co-operation council (GCC). These organisations give a microcosm of world problems within the islamic community. The GCC is a rich man's club, while other islamic countries are amongst the poorest and most backwards in the world. There are also cases like Palestine and perhaps Northern Cyprus, which are predominantly moslem, but have no official statehood. In fact the islamic world also includes large sections of China, and the USSR. Jeddah and Mecca remain impressive show-cases of the benefits of capitalism to these regions. In terms of trade, Saudi Arabia leads the islamic world. The Saudi economy is the most important in the region, and it also offers opportunities for the intelligentsia of all the arab speaking countries. Palestinians are important here. Many of the teachers and administrators are palestinians, in both Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Second in the list of islamic powers appears Turkey. This is no real threat to Saudi Arabia, because the turks are not considered good moslems by anyone. Turkey is certainly no show-case of capitalism. It is one of the few countries of the world with an idealistic communist party. The expenses and iniquities of capitalist modes of exploitation are all too evident in Turkey. The turks have quite a European mentality, and the arab-islamic axis is of no real interest to them. They are definitely not a member of 'The Rich Man's Club', although the turks are members of NATO and the OECD. The turks were happy to act as a broker to both sides during the Iran-Iraq war, and they were in the best position to do so. International pipelines are important for all the powers in the area. 'The Pipeline of Peace' has been posed as a solution to the region's military problems by some of the big american engineering companies. The idea is to pump water from the sources of Iraq's rivers to Syria, Palestine, and the hejaz. Even isreal would be involved in the deal. The whole venture could probably be financed by money from the Gulf, especially if military spending was diverted. The discussion of water rights would take longer than the actual project if the present situation is anything to go on. The Iran-Iraq war was nominally caused by a disagreement on the line of a river frontier. Turkish dams are dangerous provocations to the Iraqis who remain the military super-power of the region. The Saudi people are consulted on none of these decisions. Foreign policy is the preserve of a small number of elite families. These people are mercantelists. Many of them learnt from the british or american capitalists, and get on with these people excellently. The Saudi Elite has the 'one-world mentality' more so than many of their counterparts in England or the USA. Tokyo is just as familiar as Washington or New York for many of them. Few would go to Moscow, because the communists are too poor. The religious people felt left out of this. They want to train moslem missionaries to work anywhere in the world, and especially in the USA. The 'black muslims' represent an important constituency of the Saudis. The americans themselves are not really opposed to this. Their own religious inspired leadership was quite willing to see islam as a wonderful ally against Godless-Marxism-Leninism. Any religion which allowed or even advocated the supression of communism seemed OK to many americans, who it may be added are consulted on foreign policy decisions by their government. In a sense, islam could be seen as good for labour discipline. Rather than going on strike, the workers should trust in allah. The leaders of islam are quite ready to go along with the USA as the number one capitalist power, and claim their ranking as the number one islamic power. They appear unaware of the problems which beset italy. Their own position is difficult. While no one would contest the Saudis claim to mecca and medina (except a few meccans) there are many who would object to theiroccupation of jerusalem. Even the jordanians would object to any one country owning the three holy cities. Jerysalem, Mecca, and Medina. The hajj should be shared out equally from Tel Aviv to Jeddah, if capitalism is to be any good. The unrivalled pilgramage tour remains a dream, and it is impossible for the capitalist system to yield this dream of many members of the proletariat. Islam itself says every man should be able to go to Mecca. This means that the world's wealth needs to be more equally distributed in order to ensure equal chances. The hajjis were never meant to be an elite which could live like lords, and keep the common people as slaves or servants. As a number one economic power they need to turn away from capitalism. This they can never do. The gulf arabs will do anything to avoid going back to the days of pearl fishing, or subsistance agriculture, and they have cashed in on off-shore banking to try and be like New-York and Hong-Kong. Unfortunately the most grand of these ventures, the Money Souk of Kuwait went bust in the early eighties, and had to be bailed out by the government. Many yuppies had to try their hand at industry, and get a job in Saudi. There they find the banks already filled with yemenis, and hadramawtis. So these people would die rather than join the ranks of the proletariat. Unlike the son in law of Karl-Marx, they do not have to commit suicide when the family legacy runs out. They can get jobs as executives in a big industrial complex. If not they can set up a shop, and sell to the proletariat. New industries such as computing and bio-technology can provide lucrative jobs. The manual work can all be done by immigrant labour. No where else in the world has so many of a nation been able to own servants. These rich gulf countries are surrounded by a pool of cheap labour. The Saudis tend to go for servants, rather than developing robots or new forms of technology. If they want to set up their silicon valley, then they have to give the workers more political power. Freedom of religion is denied in Saudi Arabia. This works against the interests of science, in the sense that they cannot freely bid for the skills of the jews of the USSR, before they go to the enemy of isreal. The religious faction is just chasing away the type of people who they need most. On immigration the Saudis are not following US advice, which indicates that Saudi could currently go to a population of twenty million. Saudi Arabia gets the americans who are not jews. Admittedly there are a few jews in medecine, but their presence is not advertised much. The truth is that the zionists could see how civilised are their enemies, if they were to see Riyadh, and Jeddah. Many excellent works are carried out by JECOR, the joint economic commission. They have desalination experts, and forestry experts, and a national parks service. Just like capitalist states anywhere, these departments are very small and underfunded compared with central government services such as computing and statistics. Here enormous beaurocratic empires are being built in a country which is mostly just desert. If Chad and Mali and Sudan could get the same they would be in fine shape. Saudi Arabia has a fine structure with a lot of duplication between Riyadh, and Jeddah, the big rivals. To understand Saudi foreign policy, you need to understand Adnan Kashoggi. His disgrace to the extent of appearing in an american court with an electronic chain restricting him to his luxury apartment is all in the classical ottoman tradition, where a big functionary could be recalled at any time and executed like a common criminal. The Saudis have very well adapted themselves to a century of Hitler, and Stalin, and even Enver, who massacred the armenians, by staying well on the sidelines. Their last enemies were the egyptians, and the turks. Isreal itself is not an enemy at all, except that of course the Saudis, as arabs, feel a bit more right to parcel up isreal than anyone else. Since Ibn Saud evicted the turkish governer from his mud castle in Riyadh, the state has not looked back. British bribes kept him from fighting them, and an englishman was kept at his court, to report on whether he was getting bribes from the turks, in all probability. All in all it was a very good war for Saudi Arabia. The turks also learned quickly, and managed the same trick in the next war. This time, it was the americans rather than the british that had the power in the eastern mediterranean. The Asmara Air Base was built in the closing years of the war, once the issue was already decided. It took some time to run down the war machine, so the americans built peripheral bases. They found it useful to hunt down the communists in Greece, and also in Armenia. Turkey and Greece were blocks of NATO, while Iran, and Iraq and Pakistan could all be members of CENTO. These military alliences could serve as a bulwark against communism. The god parties could be used in all wars against communism, and this could collect vast funds from enraptured audiences listening to religious evangelist demagogues. American missionaries were able to cash in on vast opportunities, especially in Ethiopia, and the Lebanon. Many of these were bourgeois liberals and this can be plainly seen in the attitudes of their students. The teachers were good, but the ideas seven hundred years ahead of their time. In a sense a place like America is willing to let people emigrate. This means that the world was swamped by americans in the fifties and sixties. These people were often travelling to visit relatives, and they bought the news about different cultural traditions. Since the setting up of the United Nations, there have been at least three wars in the arabian peninsula. The participants included England, Egypt, Oman, and the Yemen. The british were quite enthusiastic about the use of jet bombers to subdue 'bandits', or 'communist terrorists. These punitive actions could prove the virtues of western civilisation much better than 'free trade unions' for example, and they generally had the support of those rulers who were still pensioners of the british. At the end of the second world war england was again the dominant power in the middle east. India was still the prized possession, and Egypt and Aden were the strategic connection. The americans had built up their strength in Turkey, and Ethiopia. Just as in 1918, so in 1945 the peace treaty was to divide up the world between the victors. The jews as pitiful losers were also to get something from the new organisation set up to ensure world peace. At least they should have a place where they could be free of tyrants like Adolf Hitler, or so it seemed to liberal opinion of the time. Although the arabian peninsula (Al Jazera) had managed to avoid direct involvement, other arab countries were less fortunate. Libya had suffered most, while Syria had been involved in the rivalries between the Gaullists, and the Vichy government. All of the merchants of the area had been unable to practice free trade, and commodity markets were severely disrupted. Moslems were unable to undertake the hajj. It is quite understandable why the Saudis supported the new peace organisation. They had lost revenues from Makkah, and also their own infant oil industry was unable to find development funds during the conflict. Instead the imperialist war supplies had been drawn from Iran and Iraq. King Saud had seen how Iran was partitioned by the USSR and England, and he was enthusiastic to support a new world order based on a de-colonialisation program. The United Nations, established in the USA seemed just the answer. After all the americans had a 'good record' on this issue. They were keen to see the european imperial powers pull out of their colonies as quickly as possible. The USA was itself a power which had at one time thrown off the shackles of colonialism. Middle east oil would no longer be used to power imperialist wars. As an independent state in the U.N. Saudi Arabia could enjoy the status of being a broker in the new settlements. It might even be possible to do something for the arabs in Palestine. The English could be eased out of the old League of Nations mandate, just as the french had been expelled from Syria. Most arabs wnted the english out of Palestine. Unfortunately for the Saudis, the same was not true in the rest of the Gulf. The smaller emirates and Kuwait saw more danger from the Saudis than the british. They were well aware that the Saudis had been trying to replace the turks on the peninsula. The Asir was an example. Kuwait was a colony of British Petroleum at that time. It had taken the efforts of a very anti-british englishman to persuade the Saudis to go against the british monopolies of the middle east. Harry St. John Philby, the father of the spy, had got king Saud interested in negociating with the american oil companies. A switch from pensioner of the british to trading partner with the americans was in the best interests of the Riyadh elite. Ever since 1945 the Saudis have done their best to please the americans. The creation of the state of Isreal was the major hitch in this relationship. It meant that a major trading partner was being treated as a menial. The family could not really do much to right this insult, because the people of Saudi Arabia were never consulted. The arab invasions of Isreal in 1948 were ghastly failures. The armies involved were not 'peoples armies' of the type which saved revolutionary France from invasion. They were the remnants of colonial armies where the military elites owed their position as much to the imperialists as any-one else. The only 'peoples armies' were the odd palestinian squads, but the palestinians themselves are not really warlike people. The chance of a negociated settlement was lost in 1948. The short time since the joining of the U.N. had not given Saudi Arabia the chance to undo thirteen hundred years of mistrust for the jews. The condemnation and combat against the jews described in the Koran was at odds with the attitudes prevailing in the west after the exposure of the nazi death camps. Saudi Arabia as the center of islam could only be in a position to mediate if islam was to be percieved as a more pluralistic philosophy. This is hard for the Wahhabites who have been well known for their violent attacks on schismatic brands of islam. As a result the Saudis were mistrusted by other arabs, especially in Iraq. The arabs themselves also did not hold the confidence of western liberals. The Ba'ath movement, founded by Michael Aflaq, had contained many who had publically stated sympathy for the fascists. This offended the intelligentsia of the western liberal democracies. Another unfortunate habit of the arabs is the persecution of poets. There has long been an 'islamic information order' which places the Koran as the single authoritarian source for all human relations. The moslem brotherhood had been strengthened by the various humiliations of imperialism, and this was not good for the palestinians, many of whom have remained christian. The palestinian bourgeoisie was perhaps the first arab group to mobilise demonstrations by women in the 1930's. It is possible to see photos of these demonstrations in the arabic print media. These unveiled women are shown picketing various places in Palestine, to protest against the zionist form of social engineering. The liberals were unfortunate. The time was set for authoritarian tendencies in Europe, such as fascism, or stalinism. The arab nation has not been kind to the intelligentsia. Colonialism gave many of the brightest a chance to emigrate, and this 'brain drain' was only re-inforced by the backward attitude of many of the nationalist organisations. The sort of men who chose to work for western organisations did not care for the 'one book mentality', but they were reluctant to admit it to the people back at home. In 1948 it was impossible for such conservatives as the moslem brotherhood to defend the interests of a minority. At no stage were they fighting for freedom. They were all seeking to impose some other form of authoritarian control on the palestinians. As a result of the 1948 debacle, many palestinians went to work for imperialist oil companies in the gulf. Some of these men even tried to export their liberal values and form trade unions. They were rapidly hounded out of work by an alliance of multinational companies and sheiks. Nationalism has become the only tolerated form of political activity for many palestinians. This is part of their tragedy. The moslems would see this as quite appropriate. They think communism is a jewish invention, and so they definately do not want the palestinians to invent anything for themselves. After the isreali state came the rise of Gamel Abdul Nasser. Here the Saudis took the side of the old colonial powers. They saw Nasser's attempts to influence politics in the Yemen as a trespass on their domain. An attempted coup by 'progressive nationalist' army officers in Sana'a saw the start of a ten year civil war. Egyptian conscripts were pitted against well armed tribal mujehadeen. The egyptians were fighting for 'arab socialism', while they mujehadeen were fighting for 'freedom'. The british were keen to see the egyptians turfed out of the Yemen, because of their own loss of face at Nasser's hands during the Suez crisis of 1956. The relationship with Kuwait is something special for the Saudis. The family of Ibn Saud had been forced to seek sanctuary there after some troubles during the nineteenth century. It was then just a poor place that relied on trade and pearl fishing, but Kuwait was not as important as Basra. The oil was harder to find, but when it did come, Kuwait was made into British Petroleum center. Kuwait was certainly more important to the british, than to the turks in the early years of the century. All of the Gulf had become a british lake. It suited the rulers to seek super-power support, against a strong local power. The turks were more of a danger than the british. They could invade with large armies, and they had reasons to resent the past incursions of the wahabbite ikhwan (Moslem brothers) who had sacked Kerbala. The turks and their local clients still controlled the interior of arabia, and even parts of the Yemen. These people were generally less interested in fighting than the british. They bought the occassional arms, but they also liked making water pipes to smoke things. The west brought an increased level of brutality into the dar as salaam. Rockets, and large calibre artillery are inventions of the dar al harb. Saddam Hussein is proving this ninety years later. The middle east is just industrial hinterland to the west, and Muammar Ghadafi is quite right when he says the objective is for the americans to keep the middle east as a big indian reservation. He has probably been told that by american liberals. Muammar Ghadafi is determined to give the west a taste of its own medecine, but does not know how to do this yet. He wants to sponsor enemies of the west, but has been ripped off by various dishonest clients, so he has to work through long lists of solutions. Assuming he lives long enough then he will suceed, because he is doing things to endear himself to many. His interests in banking and automobiles give him insight into the major economic problems of the arab world. Terms of trade are abysmal, because the world ruling classes want all decision making done in Washington, and Paris,and Frankfurt, rather than in Jeddah, and Cairo. As an honest moslem, Ghadafi seeks to unify Libya with a country of a greater population. He has tried many countries, but not yet a joint Saudi-Libyan coalition. This is something that the west dreads. Bomb attacks on Libya have taken place to try and eliminate Muammar Ghadafi. The Saudis friend, the british were the staging post for one such attack. It is hardly surprising that Ghadafi is very angry at the Saudis for also hosting american planes. It is to be hoped that the arabs do not need foreign help in protecting them from local enemies. The Prophet, peace be upon him, would have laughed at such behaviour. Better still is the avoidance of local enemies. All of the arab state have been involved in peace treaties for years. Many agreements have been made to end the lebanese civil war, but none of them are effective. The same applies to Isreal. The arabs cannot make a treaty in Makkah, because non-moslems cannot yet go there. Seen this way, the Saudi foreign policy may seem to be a straight jacket for a truly islamic policy, which purely seeks to shrink the dar-al-harb. The Saudis could offer to take the I.R.A. of british hands. They could set up a sort of protectorate for the ulstermen, while the english took their own troops away. They could also spend money on the improvement of farming techniques in Africa, and the soviet asian republics. Instead of this, they are simply working for the west in many areas. They are not actually helping the isrealis to opress the palestinians, but their efforts to help the palestinians are limited. Their best efforts in recent times have been associated with attempts to get the U.N. General Assembly moved to Geneva. Here the Saudis already have an islamic center, and the swiss are less under the influence of the zionists than the americans. Freedom of speech for Yasser Arafat is an important plank of their foreign policy. It may seem that Saudi Arabia's foreign policy has not been so effective in the middle East. Saddam Hussein's war against Iran has occupied most of the attention during the decade. It is this war which is responsible for the curtailment of Saudi's generous aid policies to the islamic world. The decade started out with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia showing the rest of the world how to behave towards the poor. Besides building mosques, the islamic charities could prove that moslems have the war agains poverty as one of their main objectives. Instead this money had to be diverted to propping up Saddam Hussein. Poor old Iraq did not even have a sea outlet for its oil exports. The system of Saudi and Kuwaiti pipelines were extended to allow some Iraqi exports to reach Saudi ports. The iranians were aware of this, and by seeking to interfere with Iraqi exports they attacked shipping bound for Kuwaiti and Saudi ports. The Americans were called in to defend this trade, although it is the Kuwaitis who took the most blatent action by registering many of their ships as american. Saudi support for Iraq was obvious by their press coverage. Saddam Hussein was shown as a smiling and genial man, meeting with the same sort of important civil and military dignities that the Saudi elite love so much. There were even tame ulema who could assure the faithful sunnites that the crushing of the islamic revolution was essential in the name of good orthodox islamic principals. A Jamaican moslem called Bilal Philips wrote a book explaining the 'mirage of Iran'. In this tract the perfidy of shiites through the ages was exposed. It was shiites who had sold Baghdad to the mongols, and dismembered Pakistan. The followers of Ali were responsible for many of the ills of the noslem world. It certainly seemed wise to get help from both Russia and America against a resurgence of this 'twelve imams' heresy. After all many christian powers had sought the help of moslems against catholicism. There are many stories that Saddam Hussein had actually asked for Saudi advice before crossing the Shatt Al Arab. The truth is harder to tell. It is unlikely that Saddam ever received a straight answer. Dissimulation and ambiguity is not a distinctly shiite trait. The technocrats generally want development, and not war. If they are comfortable, they will not risk their lives for humanistic goals. They do not need to be manipulated, since they do not participate in government. These same technocrats are also able to see how their counterparts in England have been unable to do much about Northern Ireland, and also how the american intellectuals have failed to prevent american intervention in Chile, Salvador, and even Nicaragua. The Saudis were pleased that they did not have to fight Iran. Better the turks, or the russians, or even the isrealis, for the role of agressor to Iran. As moslems the iranians were even entitled to send pilgrims to Makkah. The Saudis here played a crucial role as guardians of the gate. Modern air travel, and the huge terminals at King Abdul Aziz International Airport, at Jeddah, meant that millions of pilgrims could be accomodated and welcomed by boy scouts and similar charitable organisations. The peaceful activity of pilgrimage could show the best of Saudi Society. The normal police could behave with the utmost courtesy, giving tourists a guide to explain the correct form of the ritual. Every effort was to be made to prevent people from being trampled in the crush. The transport system of Makkah was built on american proportions to handle the traffic. The highway to Jeddah showed a twenty-first century landscape, with fantastic sculptures on the central reservation. Jeddah itself boasts some of the best art to be seen anywhere in the world. Although the cyclist is not a protected species in Saudi Arabia, the twenty metre high bicycle that graces a Jeddah roundabout is an indication of things to come. Makkah itself has plenty of tunnels and flyovers. Despite the efforts of the boy scouts and other idealists the holiest places of islam became centers of ideological conflicts. The iranian pilgrims wanted to unfurl banners condemning america and isreal. This lead to an undertermined number of deaths in 1987. The Saudi police probably became frightened of the mob, and shot in self-defence, but their lack of experience must have caused many uneccessary deaths. These incidents in Makkah lead to the sacking of the Saudi embassy in Tehran. One diplomat fell to his death, trying to escape an angry mob. Luckily the diplomats were not kept in prison for long, and they were able to go back and tell the tale to the local newspapers a few days later. Despite all this, the best efforts were made to retain an iranian embassy in Saudi Arabia. There was a vast building in the shape of a mud fort maintaned in the diplomatic quarter of Riyadh. Most of the time this building seemed to be under construction. There was certainly no chance of releasing a mob into the diplomatic quarter of Riyadh. Such turmoil would be too unpredictable. The mob might decide to go for other embassies as well. The local mob would consist of motor mechanics and teachers and medical staff from Umm al-Hamam. Most of these people would be foreigners, rather than Saudis. They mostly besiege the embassies for visas to countries which are higher up the scale in terms of human development. Indians and pakistanis queue up for visas to France or the U.S.A. The many stateless persons in Saudi Arabia seek to go to Australia, Canada, or Sweden. They see Riyadh as a staging post on the road to 'western civilisation'. If the Saudis have not been so successful in middle eastern power politics, they have certainly been successful in their industrialisation and agriculture. Too succesful perhaps. Their own trading partners who got huge advantages in the construction of chemical plants turned against their customers. The E.E.C. slapped tariffs on Saudi products from the petro-chemical complexes at Al Jubail, and Yanbu. Their economy is merely seen as an estate to be exploited by the rich countries. The technocrats know this, but most of them realise that if they want to seriously act to change anything, they must embark on the nomadic life of a gypsy, and base their operations outside the peninsula. The intellectuals and technocrats are alienated by Ibn Bas, and the more fanatical moslems. They know that they need ex-patriates, but they can do little to keep the loyalty of men of the highest calibre. The harsh social conditions imposed by the ulema lead to the worst sort of mercenaries being attracted to Saudi Arabia. The 'take the money and run' attitude is all too common, and this does not help managers. Full participation in the world economic system is coming slowly. The immense oil wealth makes the country a target for all sorts of sharp dealers who simply wish to exploit this wealth for short term gain. These people will fully co-operate with any corrupt practices that they see, and also seek opportunities to cash in on conflict. Arms salesmen include the americans, the british, and the chinese. They are all quite pleased to see a separate army and national guard. The koreans and lebanese can get contracts to build barracks and hospitals for these military forces. Many of these projects are finished late, and some are not yet paid for.There are many examples of bankruptcies, where the bosses run away, leaving their workers unpaid, and stranded in a foreign country. There are also examples of Saudis who have had to run away from the west to escape debts, or avaricious american lawyers. Sometimes a rich man marries an american woman, and then finds she wants half the estate, which may amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. These poor men are hounded out of their hotels and penthouses by infidel litigation. They face the existential problem of unlimited wealth and yet an unhappy life. Their religion, like most religions when it comes to this point, does not provide an answer. As in all topical analysis of foreign policy, we include drugs, debt, and dumping. The Saudis have certainly been accused of the latter crime, at least by other members of the oil cartel. They have often set the oil quota, but with the Iran-Iraq war, and the pipeline systems, most of these quotas could be fiddled. Ministry statistics are all produced with the most modern computer systems, but the end result is the same. While the Iranians slog out in an unpopular war, the Saudis want to fill the souks of Makkah and Jeddah with videos. The Saudis can represent consumerism, while the iranians can go for an austere form of puritanism. It is then possible for the mass of the people to decide whether they want war. In this way the Saud dynasty are making their 'bilad', or 'watan' a fantastic parallel with the freewheeling days of the ancient popes of Rome. They are giving considerable autonomy to local governers, and will eventually be able to have a conflict of city states. Football matches are popular there. This represents the consumerist tendency. Football and sports stadiums are big business out there, along with professional management and training. Jeddah and Makkah are both a showcase of the west, and one can imagine the glee of the shop keepers as they wait to welcome the peasants of Soviet Central Asia. All of these men will want japanese videos to sell on the black market back at home. The Saudis have a very international society, and they are quite security conscious. Some of them see their own country as a 'dumping' ground for all sorts of obsolete but expensive technology. You can see wrecked Toyotas all over the desert. The badu are upgrading from camels and donkeys, and this within the lifetime of many. They also appear to be a dumping ground for many ex-patriates. On some contracts, the majority of people are pensioners. These laid-back westerners generally push paper, and have adapted to the ways of oriental beaurocracy, but with word-processors for their inter office memos. The passport and labour control systems are all computerised, along with the banks. Quite often the government systems do not work well, but it is still a big success for the vendors. The whole area is a gigantic laboratory for hi-tech solutions to the world's problems. Solar power farms, and solar powered traffic signs are part of the every day environment, along with all sortys of expensive listening posts. The area for hundreds of kilometers around Riyadh is bristling with all sorts of electronic hardware for looking into the sky. Air traffic control is good, so some of this hardware is useful. Other forms of dumping include plastic waste and gas emissions. It is possible to drive hundreds of miles, and see thrown away cassette tapes streaming along the roads. None of the deserts are free of this indestructable plastic waste. There is now a whole industry on the shores of the gulf to make all of this stuff. The UN has prepared a table of countries, showing the emissions of 'greenhouse gases'. Saudi Arabia is in the top twenty five, along with the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. It is about the same as the Netherlands. As a country with a small population, and a high degree of industrialisation, it must be counted as a modern economy. In a sense, the war of the states already arrived. The british had done so much to divide the peninsula. They themselves had obviously wanted to get the markets for their produce. In turn these different places are all rivals to sell their oil. They have nothing else, and they all want to consume. Debt is dealt with in the Koran. Usury is forbidden. A lender should risk loss, as well as profit. This normally means that the lender will drive as hard a bargain as possible. In practice the lender will try to siphon off the largest possible share of the profits of any enterprise. Sharia law does not necessarily prevent exploitation, since brokerage fees may be charged anyway. The need of a debtor determines how much he will offer for credit. Saddam Hussein was able to borrow money, but he had to do the work of containing the Iranian revolution. The Saudis and the Kuwaitis put up most of the hard currency. Otherwise, Saddam was able to get help from extremely poor, but technologically developed, east european countries. It seems rather strange to think of debts in terms of the rather worthless currencies that these east european and communist countries so loved to use. Most of these people were paid in Saudi and Kuwaiti dollars, when the money came through. Late payment is normal, but it usually gets there. Iraq will only default to the big creditors, but they are unlikely to want to press their claims for repayment by force. Saddam is now quite dangerous to them. Saudi Arabia's overseas investments can easily be returned in cash. This is good, because the money was badly needed in the late eighties. This is necessary to keep up good levels of domestic consumption. This consumption includes heavy investments in agriculture. The farmers can be debtors. They can pay their air fares out of the money they earn. This can be done in several ways. Agency fees will increase the debt, along with various other financial fixes. Philipino, thai, and bengali labourers are usually in debt for at least a year. Sometimes the employer himself is in debt, and the workers are not paid for months. It is best to get a job with a german, or american company. Here the wages will be paid on time. Even that has its risks. There are also some bad companies based in the rich countries. Many of the big projects were achieved only by using the advance payments from the next. SOGEX is an example. This company, Societee Generale D'Exploitation, was set up in Lebanon, and then based itself in Paris, with offices in Germany and England. Its boss did not dare to come to Saudi Arabia, because the Saudis imprison people for debt. They are very touchy about the whole business. One englishman was thrown in jail and tortured by the Saudis, because he fell out with a business partner. A german agent was also jailed while trying to collect a debt. It is a place where the powerful enjoy cruelty. Rather like the english sporting clubs where the elite can watch provincial slaves slogging it out at a boxing match. Of course, not all Saudis are bad to their servants. Some ex-slaves have become rich men in their own right, by means of generous gifts and appointments from a previous master. Drugs is a big problem in Saudi Arabia. Besides the usual hashish, heroin and cocaine syndrome, the Saudis have added alcohol to their problems. Enforcement of the laws includes jailing and whipping. Even to arrive in the country with alcohol in the blood is to ask for trouble. Men have been arrested and imprisoned on a positive blood test. These are the sort of people who do not have powerful friends. For the 'standard' illegal drugs, Saudi is a signatory to the U.N. conference on narcotics. As such their own police can hope to lead the way in the middle east in showing how good they are at enforcement. The big dealers can be the center of a show put on after the friday prayers at the big mosques. These dealers will be decapitated, as a public spectacle to divert the masses from other problems. Other middle eastern countries also have a big police beaurocracy which benefit from this UN convention. As is to be expected, the eventual profits from illegal drugs are enormous. The heavy punishments drive up the price, enabling huge profits to be made by the rich and powerful. The working classes are fully aware of this, and since many are from countries where life is cheap, they are willing to take the risks of dealing. Because these drugs are controlled by the police, the trade is especially attractive to them, and also the military. Saudi Arabia is surrounded by countries which produce drugs. Iran and Syria, along with Lebanon account for much of the world's production of hashish (an arabic word for grass, or hay), and opium (afyoum, named after a turkish town, in arabic). Besides these two, it is possible to enjoy qat, an ephedrine like drug which is particular to the arabian peninsula. As for alcohol, this is produced in enormous quantities in Saudi Arabia, as ethanol. There are also large amounts available in most of the hospitals. Because drug consumption is so risky, those who wish to consume go to enormous lengths. Direct military flights from Europe are possible, along with a great amount of guarding for some of the ex-patriate estates where these social affaires go on. This follows the ettiquette of those local sheiks who live in heavily guarded palaces. It is no secret that some moslems are not averse to artificial stimulants if this improves study of the Koran. Qat was seen as a great aid for wakefulness during Ramadan. Caffeine also has the same beneficial effects. In fact many people use the word mocca, for coffee, named after the yemini port town. Hashish consumption is high amongst power-station workers, and other technicians. Alcohol is almost universally appreciated, irrespective of race, religion, class or sex. The supermarket shelves are laden with scents and cosmetics, and other things from which alcohol may be extracted. Other people simply make their own. The arabic word is 'sidiqi', or friend. At various times in history the mullahs and other virtue parties have attempted to eradicate all forms of drug taking, because it seems to them an affront to god, and a form of satanism. They have failed abysmally. This is more or less acknowledged, but since imprisoning and torturing people is a national sport in many places, it is useful to have drugs around. The drug taker can always be seen as a useful rebel, who can take part in an execution spectacle. The fact is that in countries where life is cheap, then agents of the law are often seen as mosquitoes. They are blood sucking parasites, but generally not as bad as Pol-Pot's virtue brigades who actually went as far as killing the host. Many of Saudi Arabia's current inhabitants come from such places. In the Sudan, Thailand, and the Philippines the police are parasites. Most of them are paid such low wages that they have to live from the fruits of blackmail. Most arab countries were the same themselves once, before the OPEC countries acquired enough money to pay good salaries to their agents. Parasites cause many medical problems. At the social level many beaurocracies work the same way on a nation. The Saudi enforcement agencies for alcohol and drugs hinder the scientific development of the cradle of islam. They cannot get the best scientists to stay and do research, or even teach, if these men feel criminalised by behaviour which is part of their culture. The odd whipping for an alcohol supplier reminds even the privileged that life can be hard in Saudi Arabia, so these ex-patriates will not want to retire there, unless they become moslems. In some cases even moslems do not wish to live there. This is an attack on the working classes in the best capitalist traditions. Originally the attack on alcohol was only part of the mosque routine. It was not part of the required ritual purity to attend the mosque in a state of inebriation. Nevertheless the koran says alcohol has its uses, so the bosses were quick to stamp that part out. They just wanted workers. Even today the arabs are divided on alcohol. Some allow it, in the assumption that better things can compete with alcohol, while others try to forbid it. The prohibition is seen as parasitism by many. The customs people and other enforcers are often willing to consume some of the confiscated produce. That is life. Terrorism affects all countries. It is a tax levied by the violent upon the non-violent. As such, the violent often stick together, so that terrorism and counter-terrorism often seem indistinguishable. The moslems have violent enemies (like the isrealis), so that those who are not saints occassionally resort to violence in self defence. This means that Saudi Arabia has sometimes had to support moslems against opression by their enemies. This may have seemed particularly painful if the enemies also happened to be moslems. Recently, there were two good causes. The moslems in Eritrea were being opressed by communists in Ethiopia, and the moslems of Afghanistan were being attacked by the Russians. The cases in India, Burma and the Phillipines were more delicate, perhaps because the respective regimes are oppressing almost everybody. The mosques also preach against the oppression of the blacks in South Africa, and the subjugation of the Palestinians by the zionist regime in Isreal. Nevertheless, public rallies in support of such oppressed people are not yet allowed. However fund raising is encouraged. It is possible for causes to collect money in Riyadh, and Jeddah. Different organisations may establish offices there. The P.L.O. is an example. They have quite a large building in down town Riyadh. It is built after the old style, in mud, or cheap concrete, and is therefore rather seedy. Other organisations include the ELF (Eritrean Liberation Forces) and the Afghani Mujehaddin. These people may just send visitors on pseudo-diplomatic meetings, but they all want aid against their enemies. They know Saudi Arabia is rich. These people are just like chess-pieces to the sheiks. They probably share class loyalties with the princes. They may be feudal landowners, dispossessed from their estates. They wish to go back, and combat the new regimes with rockets and heavy machine guns. The Saudis often will decide to support both the old and new ruling classes of a turbulant country. They learned quickly from the imperialists, or possibly taught them some of their own tricks. They are interested in using terrorists to further national aims. They were impressed by the imperialists. All sorts of groups were supported during the second world war. Communists in Azerbaijan, and partisans and chetniks in Yugoslavia. Had not the imperialists often supported two sides, until a clear winner emerged ? And had not the imperialists made mistakes such as in China. The Saudis were determined to learn for themselves. Lebanon and Jordan could be a testing ground for different versions of the Palestinian armed struggle. Money might be paid to competing groups, because a decision could not be made. Any persecution of muslims could be used as a justification for a request for funds. The Saudis are more often victims of terrorism. They need embassies and consulates in all moslem countries, since it is necessary to issue visas for the hajj pilgrimage. These embassies been tragets of armed attacks: firstly in Lebananon, where almost all embassies are attacked, along with most of the lebanese people, and secondly in Thailand. The motives for the thai attacks are less clear. Maybe it involved racketeering. There are quite a lot of thai workers that get bad contracts in Saudi Arabia. Bankrupt companies cannot pay the wages of the workers. Promises are made which cannot be kept. This has lead to assassinations before. Saudi consulates represent the interests of the rich. The poor may feel excluded. This will certainly apply to those who find obstacles placed in their way to perform what may be seen as a god ordained duty. The mere selection of people who are to perform the hajj will impose great strains on Saudi diplomats. Quotas were introduced after the fighting in Makkah during the 1977 hajj season. One thousand pilgrims per million of population was the set limit. The idea was to prevent the iranians sending over more than forty thousand. Because Saudi Arabia is an arab and islamic country, then it is involved in terrorism which has an arab or islamic character. They have contributed arms and moral support to armed struggles, especially if this has pleased the americans. The afghani mujehadeen provide the best known example. In previous eras the algerians, or the palestinians might have been seen as a 'vanguard party' in a struggle with either an islamic or arabic dimension. Certainly any struggle based on class could not be approved of. Only those who seek the glory of Allah are to be supported. This means that communists are fair game. The russians in Afghanistan, or the sudanese communist party have both felt saudi wrath. The case of Sudan is especially pitiful, because one of the more progressive moslems of that country was a supporter of the communists, until he was executed for heresy. Mahmoud M. Taha formulated, as others have done before, a message which sought to modernise islam, and include social and economic justice as one of the tenets of the religion. This is still a capital offence in much of the islamic world. The emphasis is collective prayers to allah, but individual action in freeing slaves, or if you are a slave, then waiting to be freed by the master. The question of whether the master deserves his position should not be asked. At least this is true of 'established islam'. The 'Rushdie Affair' shows how laid back the Saudis really are. They have been content to let Iran take the initiative on this question. The exposure of some moslems as men of fascist sympathies is left entirely to others. One might almost suspect the existance of a real 'peace party' amongst moslem intellectuals nowadays. Even some of the ulema may deplore such ill placed militancy. It should be remembered that the lebanese mafia has kidnapped moslem ulema, as well as christians and buddhists. This is because the political aspirations of moslem fundamentalists are none too clear. Sometimes they want to expropriate goods from the rich, and invoke class struggle as a realistic form of jehad, while at other times they wish simply to change leaders, while continuing the opression of both workers and women. How can the people be expected to regard the hejira as a sucessful collective action, to be seen in 'trade union' terms. Salman Rushdie himself is unable to take this step. The prophet peace be upon him is described as a 'businessman'. At a stroke the islamic working class is alienated. In principal there is nothing wrong with seeing the prophet peace be upon him as a personal inspiration towards dynamic and beneficial social change; an end to exploitation of man by man, and all the rest. Because islam is such a multi-cultural phenomenon, the saudis, and others, under-estimate the 'fundamentalists'. They are unaware that moslems have played an important part in class struggle. They and the zionists still attempt to hoodwink many into not seeing this truth. The history of the Zanj rebellion is still suppressed. Most history is suppressed in moslem countries. An unkind reader could see the whole history of islam as terrorism. The bandit leader, fighting from Yathrib, is the classic scenario. A big military emphasis may be put onto the life of the prophet, but really the militarisation came later. The ulema seemed subserviently pliant to the needs of military leaders. Even the english were able to use these people later on, and this shows to just what a low rank the 'intellectuals sank'. For are not the words 'ulema' and 'intelligentsia' related in meaning. Return to Tony's HomePage