You are on page 1of 2

ECON 4415 Tanveer Singh Chandok

Reflection Paper Draft 02/27/2013

Conflict Economic Analysis of The Kingdom (2007) We are going to kill them all. Quite contrary to the beginning of a typical movie critique, this paper starts with the last line of the film. Special Agent Ronald Fleury (protagonist) is asked what he said to his coworker Special Agent Janet Mayes, at the beginning of the movie (when they hear that a FBI agent has been killed). He replies, I told her we were gonna kill 'em all. The scene immediately changes back to Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), where the 15 year old grandson of terror mastermind Abu Hamza tells his aunt that the last words uttered to him by his uncle were Dont fear them, my child. We are going to kill them all. These conversations between the two sides ties in the whole movie and puts into stark perspective the conflict that portrayed. The movie creates a story based on two bombings that took place in Riyadh and Khobar (2003 and 1996 respectively). The fallout from these bombings is the main focus of the film. On May 12th 2003, 36 people were killed and 160 wounded when three compounds that were frequented by westerners was attacked in a suicide mission within Riyadh. Almost a decade earlier to this, a separate attack was also carried out on foreigners in Khobar on June 25th, 1996. A huge truck-bomb was detonated adjacent to Building #131, an eight-story structure housing United States Air Force personnel. The movie takes elements from these two events and sensationalizes them into one major, well executed and planned attack on a compound housing employees who work for oil companies. The film starts with a narration about Saudi Arabia opening its doors to the world via the discovery of oil. The Oil Embargo of 1973 is briefly touched upon. The main focus of the opening narration is to highlight U.S dependence on the Middle East (Saudi Arabia specifically) for its oil needs. The U.S is the number 1 consumer of oil, while Saudi Arabia is the number 1 producer. This relationship leads to interesting decisions taken by the U.S leaders while discussing the postconflict effects of the terrorist attack. The FBI makes a firm decision to send its agents into Saudi Arabia in order to assess the post-conflict situation. However, bureaucratic diplomacy and the views of the US Attorney General prevent the FBI from carrying out their plans. This is a very interesting situation; while the government knows what the right course of action is, they do not take it due to fears that there may be a lot of collateral damage in terms of monetary policy regarding the bi-lateral oil trade agreements. Characters put forward an economic outlook in front of a humanitarian one. Relating back to what was discussed in class, it is observed that government leaders sometimes forget their humanitarian side and act greedily. However, the protagonist manages to get into Saudi Arabia: to the utter displeasure of his home government. Once the FBI team is within Saudi Arabia, a lot of tension arises between them and the local police/military. When foreign aid is delivered, even via the correct diplomatic route, it is sometimes unwanted by the local community. The local police chief (Sergeant Haytham) is unhappy with the Americans trying to take over the ongoing investigation and there are many times when the FBI team has literally nothing to do but look at the crime scene. Problems such as this arise in the real world for factions (peace-keeping troops, NATO forces and other observers) who are trying to help the local community. A passing comment by the Saudi Prince in the movie
1

ECON 4415 Tanveer Singh Chandok

Reflection Paper Draft 02/27/2013

is of interest. He asks the protagonist whether his team would like to go on a safari, as he can arrange one. This shows the lack of the Saudi Arabian governments commitment to let the FBI help them. While international interventions are helpful in most situations, after troops (peacekeeping or not) are deployed, governments must ensure that they are getting the adequate help and support required to carry out their jobs. Various conflicts of interest occur throughout the world due to tensions between international factions who are trying to achieve the same goal. This scene is also a pivotal point in the movie since the protagonist stands up for Sergeant Haytham and recommends that the police chief be put in charge of the case (instead of the military commander). This ensures that the FBI team has full access to the resources they need to track down the mastermind of the gruesome attack, Abu Hamza. FBI agents and the Saudi police work together to get closer to Abu Hamza and the terrorist cell. The terrorists also start gearing up for a large scale attack and start identifying the FBI agents. In a few scenes, the director portrays regular Muslims who are not extremists by showing Sergeant Haythams interaction with his family. His love for his children and his commitment to Islam are contrasting to what is seen just before the terror attack on the compound (Abu Hamzah forcing his son Ali to watch the suicide attacks from a rooftop). The movie does a good job in showing that a conflict can have various effects on a local population. There are a lot of Saudi citizens who are caught in a messy crossfire between the Saudi police (assisted by the FBI agents) and the terrorist group. Most of these citizens have nothing to do with the conflict. On the flipside, the movie shows how the darkness of terrorism reaches some Saudi policemen who turn on their own country by supporting the terrorists. After one of the FBI agents is taken captive by the terrorists, Abu Hamza is found and killed during the rescue operation. In this operation, Sergeant Haytham loses his life and the protagonist visits the grieving family. The viewers are reminded of the scene where the protagonist visited the family of the fallen FBI agent who was killed in the initial suicide attack. This moment shows the true face of war and its unintended consequences. Ultimately, The Kingdom sheds light on the post-conflict fallout of a terror attack intended to harm foreigners (U.S oil industry workers and their families). The movie draws parallels from real events and showcases (in a sensationalized, Hollywood-esque form) the local problems faced by a population who may not want to be involved in an insurgency operation. The last scene (detailed in the first paragraph) ties in all the viewers thoughts into a simple thought question what window are you looking out of?