The Saudi Paradox Author(s): Michael Scott Doran Source: Foreign Affairs, Vol. 83, No. 1 (Jan. - Feb., 2004), pp.

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the interior minister. The Saudi state is a fragmented entity. who controls the secret police. Secretary of State Richard Armitage.S.will not be swayed by these horrible terrorists. Relations between these two leaders are visibly tense. divided between the fiefdoms of the royal family. U. in Riyadh for a visit. But if any such faith existed.And despite what was reported in the American press.S. [35] . "We have the utmost faith that the direction chosen for this nation by Crown Prince Abdullah. officials downplayed the significance of the incident for Saudi Arabian politics. the political and economic reforms. the retrenchment having begun in thewake of a similar attack sixmonths earlier. But at home in Saudi Arabia. Abdullah's reforms were already being curtailed. Ever since King Fahd's stroke in MICHAEL SCOTTDORAN is Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Stud ies at Princeton University andAdjunct Senior Fellow at theCouncil on Foreign Relations. two stand out: Crown Prince Abdullah and his half-brother Prince Nayef. itwas quite misplaced. In theUnited States. Nayef. Abdullah cuts a higher profile. an end to the reforms was exactly what the bombers and their ideological supporters hoped to accomplish.The Saudi Paradox Michael Scott Do ran THE DUAL MONARCHY WHEN AN ATTACK on a residential compound in Riyadh killed 17 people and wounded 122 in early November 2003. casts a longer and darker shadow."saidDeputy U. Among the four or fivemost powerful princes. To understand why this is the case-and why oneof Washington'sstaunchest allieshasbeen incubatingmurderous a anti-Americanism-one must delve into themurky depths of Saudi Arabia'sdomestic politics.

and even insufficiently devout Sunni Muslims. the question of succession has been hanging over the entire system.Michael ScottDoran 1995.and it presses the Saudi government to de-Wahhabize [36] FOREIGN AFFAIRS Volume83No. The clerics consider any plan that gives a voice to non-Wahhabis as idolatrous.i . whereas Nayef sides with the clerics and takes direction from an anti-American religious establishment that shares many goals with al Qaeda.The United States. both timesmaking common causewith Shi' ites. For themost radical Saudi clerics. but neither prince has enough clout to capture the throne." leads the cabal. From the perspective of Tawhid. and a Wahhabi religious establishment that holds up its interpretation of Islam's golden age as a guide. the "Idol of theAge. the clerics andNayef take their stand on the principle of Tawhid. and regional and sectarian resentments are rising to the fore. it supports the Jews against the Sunni Muslim Palestinians. of The Saudimonarchy functionsas the intermediary between two distinct a politicalcommunities: Westernizedelite thatlookstoEurope and the United States as models of political development. It attacked Sunni Muslims inAfghanistan and Iraq.many people who claim to be monotheists are actually polytheists and idolaters.Many agree that the Saudi political system must somehow evolve. Saudi Arabia is in the throes of a crisis. On the right side of the political spectrum. it promotes Shi' ite interests in Iraq. these enemies include Christians. Shi" ites. these groups constitute a grand conspiracy to destroy true Islam. or "monotheism. These problems have been exacerbated by an upsurge in radical Islamic ac tivism. THE POWER OF TAWHID THE TWOCAMPS divide over a singlequestion: whether the state should reduce the power of the religious establishment. Jews.the welfarestateisrapidly deteriorating.but aprofoundculturalschizophrenia preventsthe elite from on agreeing the specifics reform. In their view. The economy cannot keep pace with population growth. the eponymous founder ofWahhabism. Saudi Arabia's two most powerful princes have taken opposing sides in this debate: Abdullah tilts toward the liberal reformers and seeks a rapprochement with the United States." as defined byMuhammad ibnAbd al-Wahhab.

itspervasive Christianundertones. Tawhid is Tawhid ensures a unique political status for the clerics and wonder. It is no as a pious man. Nayef indirectly controlsthe con troversial Commission for thePromotionof Virtue andPrevention of Vice (cpvpv). corrodes Saudisocietyfrom femalefreedom. within. the religious police. head of the legitimizes the secret security apparatus. failed to cover themselves in proper Islamic attire before running from the flames. Nayef zealously defends Wahhabi puritanism because he knows on which side his bread is buttered-as do others with a stake in the repressive status quo. stomping out pagan cultural and political prac tices at home and supporting war against Americans inAfghanistan and Iraq are two sides of the same coin. and the religious police then mindlessly enforced the laws on public decency. so the story goes."lasting is untilJudgment truemonotheism will destroy polytheism once and for all. In foreign policy. U. Not known personally repressive Saudi state. itseducational With have released a torrent of idolatry. culture Tawhidis closelyconnectedto jihad. its permissive attitude toward and its supportforunfettered sex. In the minds of the clerics.thatNayef. It is impossible to say F 0 R E IG N AF FA I R S January/February 2004 [37] . and so it ishe-not Abdullah-who presides over the Saudi fund for the support of the Palestinian intifada (which the clerics thusnot justan intolerant doctrine religious regard adefensive as jihad against onslaught the oftheZionist-Crusader alliance).More than a dozen girls were trampled to death in the incident. On the domestic front.Nayef's support for Tawhid translates into support for jihad. eternal." when never tireof repeating. After all. The cpvpv came underwithering attack inMarch 2002 when itsmen reportedly used batons to beat back schoolgirls as they tried to flee from a burning dormitory. they alone have the necessary training to detect and root out idolatry so as to safe guard the purity of the realm.the clerics Day. The girls. and meanwhile. the struggle-sometimesby force of arms. Cable television theInternet. but also a political principle that legitimizes the repressiveness of the Saudi state. The doctrine of Tawhid ensures a unique political status for the clerics in Saudi Arabia. is a strong sup porter of Tawhid. Jihad against idolatry. therefore.S.The Saudi Paradox curriculum. sometimes by stern persuasion-against idolatry.

Nevertheless. flatly deniesthatthereligious policedidanything wrong.i 83 . Taqarub stands in opposition to the siege mentality fostered by Tawhid. Between January andMay 2003. Abdullah clearly associates himselfwith Taqarub.The clerics were not mollified.theestablishment an independent judiciary. Taqarub promotes the notion of peaceful coexistence with nonbelievers. Jewish Israelis. in an unprecedented move. but this affront to their sensibilities was as nothing compared to the Shi' ite petition. which. He has advocated restrictions publicdebate.Two separate petitions established the essential character of the discussion: theNational Reform Document. which offered a roadmap for Saudi democracy. and Partners in the Homeland. he presided over an unusually open "national dialogue" with prominent Saudi liberals. allowing Saudis to live in peace with Christian Americans.It also seeks to expand the political communityby legitimizingthepolitical involvement groups that of the Wahhabis consider non-Muslim-Shi ites. and even Shi' ite Iranians. in their eyes. they do not enjoy even themost basic rights of religious freedom. feminists. Its drafters also took pains to express respect for Islamic law. The Saudi religious establishment is viscerally and vocally hostile to Shi' ism.Michael ScottDoran whether the story is true in all respects. the crown prince met with their leadersand accepted theirpetition.but considerable evidence indicates that the cpvpv did in some manner hamper rescue efforts. but Abdullah's move sent ripples of discontent through the Saudi religious classes. and so on. and an increased public role forwomen. Taqarub downplays the importance of jihad. issued straight from the bowels of hell. Nayef. supported a reduction in the power of the clerics.secularists. [38] FOREIGN AFFAIRS VolumeNo. on democratic and relaxing promoted reform. THE CALL OF TAQARUB IFTAWHIDis the rightpoleof theSaudipoliticalspectrum. a call by the oppressed Shi' ite community for greater of freedoms. The firstendorsed directelections. then the doctrineof Taqarub-rapprochement betweenMuslims and non Muslims-marks the left. In short.however. In foreign policy. Although Shi' ites constitute between io and '5 percent of the population. The controlled Saudi press did not publish the petition or even report on it.

the crown prince has sided resolutely with the backers of Taqarub against the hard-line clerics. sent amessage that the secret police saw no justification for tracking down alQaeda. alQaeda's response would be "commensurate with the sheikh's high standing with us . the London-based Saudi dissident Saad al-Faqih reported that Osama bin Laden had warned the Saudi authorities not to hurt him. but." a politicalculture In policedby Wahhabis. Nayef has encouraged jihad-to the point of offering tacit support for alQaeda.they are seen to be cut from the same cloth. Following the cleric's arrest in May 2003. he chided thosewho had misgivings about 'Al-Khudayr's sympathies with al Qaeda are apparently reciprocated.. for example. A close associate of al Qaeda." FORE I GN A FFA IRS January/February 2004 [ 3 9] ."Should any harm come to him. labeled al-Khudayr "our most prominent supporter. the practice of proclaiming fellow Sunnis guilty of apostasy (a crime punishable by death).The Saudi Paradox By floating the "Saudi Plan" forArab-Israeli peace-traveling to Crawford. Bush inApril 2003-and accepting the notorious Shi' ite petition. The case of the Saudi cleric Ali bin al-Khudayr helps explain Nayef's stance. as someone quick to engage in takfir. he issued afatwa advising his followers to rejoice at the attacks. he stated that alQaeda could not possibly have planned an operation of such magnitude. Texas. Depicting the United States as one of the greatest enemies that Islam has ever faced. THE THREAT OF TAKFIR WHILEABDULLAH signaled has with the friendship West. In November 2002. however.. This statement not only endorsed the clerics' para noid conspiracy theory. to debate the measure with President George W. he absolved the Saudi hijackers of for responsibility theSeptember ll. arguing that the attacks aroused somuch hostility toMuslims they must have been planned by the enemies of Islam. To a Western eye there is no inherent connection between Abdullah's domestic political reform agenda and his rapprochement policies toward non-Muslim states and Shi' ite "heretics.1After September 1i. an inter In view published openly in Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden. al-Khudayr is known as a leader of the takfiri-jihadi stream of Islamic radicalism-that is.2001.terrorist attacks. more important. the report claimed. Nayef perceived an Israeli plot instead.We will not issue a statement on thematter other than one dripping with blood.

aiding theMuslims' enemies against them. Al-Khudayr by but only after theMay 2003 suicide bombings in Riyadh that killed 34 people-when the cleric'sbrand of extremism began to threaten the political statusquo. he had been allowed to operate freelyand spread violentanti-Americanism his without constraint. thedeathsof so many innocent civilians. listinganumber American of "crimes" justifiedthe attacks:"killingand displacing that Muslims.z . Wahhabivigilantism useftilinkeepingreformers check is Saudi journalistMansur al-Nuqaydan. is an open criticof the hard-lineclerics.CORBIS Crown Twofaces oftheSaudistate: PrinceAbdullah..andpersecuting the mujahideen.andhis clearandunffinching for support Taqarub [40] FOREIGN AFFAIRS * Volume83No. forcefully on imposing blasphemy peoplesand states. for example.. he went to jail in his youth for rooting out idolatry by firebombing a video store. in ForNayef. spreadingsecularism. of his The combination his personal background. mastery ofthe clerics'idiom. Why? Because of alongthe way he helped terrorize critics the religious establishment." was eventually arrested Nayef's securityservices. An ex-Islamic extremisthimself.Until then.

Con makeshimparticularly threatening thereligious him sequently. a of bold reinterpretation the religioustext so thatwe can reconcile ourselves with theworld. and for committedthecrimes "secular claimed the Particularly incriminating. pointing to the textof an interviewinwhich the journalist of humanism" "scorn religion.January/February2004 [41] . reformers.So long as the cleric violenceagainst was limitinghis activitiesto inciting Americans and with him.anddevoutpeople. al-Nuqaydan's with the other. Nayef had no argument intimidating FOREIGN AFFAIRS . andInteriorMinisterPrinceNayef to establishment. to publicly al-Khudayr's Web site.We need a new Reformation. its rites." On the basis of this expression of Taqarub with theedictposted on hewas sentenced death. accusedal-Nuqaydan of al-Khudayr Along with some associates. an Islam that does not know hatred for others because of their beliefs or their inclinations. the authorities did nothing. al Khudayr's periodof freedomspeaksvolumes." that needan Islamreconciled conviction "we was clerics. extremists the havesingled out forspecialtreatment. In a regime where openly practicing Shi' ism can land you in jail for years..AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS . apostasy.. For fivemonths.

receiving a sympathetic hearing and an offer of Abdullah physical protection. but al-Nuqaydan also represented something of a threat to the Saudi elite.1 83 . on the other hand. al-Hamad received a slew of death threats. an associate of al-Khudayr's issued afatwa against the Saudi novelist Turki al-Hamad. Partly as a result. Al-Khudayr ran afoul of him when bombs targeting the regime started going off. Just before his death he wrote a revealing book. By however. a prolific alQaeda propagandist who died last June in a skirmishwith the Saudi security services. Yet the tacit cooperation between Nayef and al-Khudayr shows that the relationship between alQaeda and the Saudi royal family ismore complex thanmost people seem to think.but the hand of the secret police isbarely hidden from view. there is nothing puzzling about this juxtaposition.Either without warning or in response to a complaint by a prominent cleric. not overtresponsibility thepersecution the Nayefhimselfdoes take for of reformers. To better understand how alQaeda reads Saudi Arabia's political map. who later signed theNational Reform Document. whose chief concern is to protect the status quo. tacitly admitted that he could not control the shadowy parts of the government that belong to his half-brother. UNCLE TOM FRIEDMAN IN THE AFTERMATH of September 1i. The Future [42] FOREIGN AFFAIRS VolumeNo. informed American opinion concluded thatOsama bin Laden had attacked "the far enemy" -the United States-in order to foment revolution against "the near enemy"-the Saudi regime.Michael ScottDoran Around the same time that al-Khudayr was arrested. one can turn to thework of Yusuf al-Ayyiri. In 1999.He and his family were also harassed by the cpvpv. Islamic extremists then issue a death threat to the unem ployed man over the phone or on the Internet. For Nayef. The sequence of events is now familiar.His employerssubsequentlyrefuse to comment. a critic of the religious establishmentloses his job. al-Nuqaydan lost his job and soon afterwas barred fromwriting or traveling abroad-a casualty of a parallel crackdown on the reform movement. Subsequent events have confirmed that alQaeda does indeed use thewar with theUnited States as an instrument against its domestic enemies. offeringonlybodyguards. The novelist turned to Abdullah for help. for example.

According to al-Ayyiri. those who sympathize with the idea of Al religionfrom state). that U. Qaeda's Nayef has encouraged separating enemy. al-Ayyiri claims. plans to separate mosque and state constitute the greatest immediate threat to their designs and know that the time is not yet ripe for a broad revolution. a holistic religion that has a strong political dimension. theymanaged to turn a terrorist at tack on Americans into a political coup againstAmericanizers. the Saudi authorities called for public assistance in were published in capturing19 suspects. most effectiveweapon is democracy.Al Qaeda activists sense. So al Qaeda's short-term goal is not to topple the regime but to shift Saudi Arabia's domestic balance of power to the right and punish supporters of Taqarub. were using FOREIGN AFFAIRS 2004 January/February [43] . and lax Sunnis (that is.S. acting on U. In its plot to denature Islam. In response. but it does not preclude limited or tacit cooperation on some issues."in otherwords." The statement claimed that the Saudi authorities.S. others are his de facto allies. whose names and pictures the press.because Zio-Crusaderism's popular sovereignty separates religion from the state and thereby dis embowels Islam. theUnited States and Israel are the leaders movement-"Zio-Crusaderism"-that seeks of aglobalanti-Islamic the destruction of true Islam and dominion over theMiddle East. includes the Saudi royal family as part of the problem whereas the latter does not.more over.Although some in the Saudi regime are indeed bin Laden's enemies. is the cluster "near jihad -to the point of Taqarub.Zio-Crusaderism embraces three local allies: secularists. The politics surrounding the suicide bombings in Riyadh last May show how the interests of alQaeda and the Saudi religious establish ment overlap. orders.The Saudi Paradox oflraq and theArabianPeninsulaAfter theFall ofBaghdad. Right after the attack. al-Khudayr and two like-minded clerics issued a statement claiming that the accusedwere not terroristsbut "pious and devout" men and "the flower of the mujahideen. of forcessupporting between theways al offering tacit support The chief difference establishment Qaeda and theSaudireligious define their primary foes is that the former for alQaeda. Shi' ites.Working together.which gives a good picture of how alQaeda activists perceive theworld around them. This divergence is not insignificant.

Michael ScottDoran the suicide bombings as a pretext for persecuting fighterswho had "par ticipated in the jihad against themalevolent Crusaders inAfghanistan" and "distinguished themselveswith courage and heroism in the battles in the Tora Bora mountains. posted an additional statement on hisWeb site at tacking the aggressively reformist newspaper al-Watan.")According to the statement. (The newspa per's name means "the homeland. 33 activist clericswho had already formed a group called the Internal Front Facing the Current Challenges lob bied the government on the basis of a statement that reads like a contract for a new alliance between the Saudi dynasty and the Wahhabi religious interestsof al The The establishment. it alsoblamedextremism thecreepof "reprehensible Yet on practices"-a euphemism for the growing public legitimacyof the Taqarub reform agenda." [44] FOREIGN AFFAIRS Volume83No. To make these demands more explicit. Responding to this call. deference to their foreignmasters. Salman al-Awda. alQaeda and its fellow travelers.But it changed the tone of the discussion. statement worked with al Qaeda and the religious Khudayr's basic premise-that the Saudis."meaning "the idol. the clerics empha sized the need towage jihad against theAmericanizers-a reference to the enemy at home. had grown hostile to jihad. The statement drew a causal link between themovement for liberal reform and religious extremism." but religious conservatives refer to it as "al-Wathan. it admitted that religious extremism exists in Saudi Arabia and called for it to be restrained. On the one hand. the publication's staff was little better than agents of the Americans working against Islam-"Thomas Friedmans in Saudi garb. then the clerics would provide Islamic legitimacy for a government crackdown on the takfiri-jihadis. The Internal Frontessentially offered Abdullah a tradeoff: if he would curtail the reformers' activities. in establishmentoverlap.z .Whereas al-Khudavr had focused on the need towage jihad against the Americans." The clerics called on the population to disobey the regime's request for help and pronounced that any assis tance to the police would constitute aid to theUnited States in itswar against Islam. the Internal Front's leader. The statement urged other Saudi clerics to step forward and supportthebeleaguered mujahideen.

agood argumentisone thing. ajournalist had the temerity to askPrince Nayef if the bombing meant that the cpvpv would be restructured: "As a Saudi. a generalmood of public outrage. Watan'seditor. Having But al-Watan failed to take the frill police isanother.January/February 2004 [45] ." week later.was alquestion.One cartoon in particular criticizing the entire enraged the religiousestablishment.Jamal One fired." measure of its enemy. now residesinLondon. who issue fatwas andmanifestos inciting The caption read."Nayef snarled.REPRINTED BY PERMISSION OF AL-WATAN terror themselves are terrorists.controllingthe secret One week after the bombing. "you should be ashamed to be asking this Khashoggi." and who fatwas man festosinciting "Those issue attacks at Watanhad concludedthatthe terrorist The reformers aland vindicated the principleof Taqarub mistakenly assumed-like West-that many in the the Saudi authorities had no choice but to Emboldenedby dismantle those institutionsthatpromoteTawbid. He FOREIGN AFFAIRS ."Those terrorare themselvesterrorists. they began to publish articles Wahhabi edifice.It depicted a suicidebomber wearing a belt of dynamite next to a cleric wearing a belt offatwas.

a respected professor at the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University (which trains official clerics).S. This sectarian hatred that the clerics preach bears directly on the United States. Radical Sunni Islamists hate Shi' ites more than any other group.i 83 . If Saudi clerics do indeed preach amurderous anti-Americanism because they fear their domestic rivals. These eventsstronglysuggestthat the jihad against theUnited States is actually a continuation of domestic politics by other means. then certain implications follow forU. would topple the clerics from power.Michael ScottDoran THE U. This is particularly true of the Shi" ite question in Saudi politics. the Sunni state had no worth noting. troop of withdrawal).S. then yes. foreign policy. who. is a case in point.shouldgive us pause. however. policies themselves.S. the SaudiWahhabi religious estab lishment expresses similar views. Asked whether itwas permissible for Sunnis to launch a jihad against Shi' ites. al-Barrak answered that if the Shi' ites in a Sunni-dominated country insisted on practicing their religion openly." For its part.-SHI ITE CONSPIRACY CLAIMED the recent IT ISOFTEN that growthof anti-Americanism in the Middle East has been due toU.Washington cannot afford to ignore what Saudis say about each other. choice but towage war on them. A recentfatwa by Abd al-Rahman al-Barrak. Thefatwas.Al-Barrak's answer. and that they are the most evil creatures under the heavens. Saudi hard-liners are now arguing that the Shi' iteminority in Saudi Arabia is conspiring with theUnited States in itswar to destroy [46] FOREIGN AFFAIRS VolumeNo. given half a chance. The Saudi religious classes and al-Qaeda use it to discredit their indigenous enemies. and statements of established Saudi clerics uniformly denounce Shi' ite belief and practice. The fact that the suicide bombing of an American compound in Riyadh turned into a crackdown on Saudi reformers and that the bombings continued(evenaftertheannouncement aU.S. Al-Qaeda's basic credo minces no words on the subject: "We believe that the Shi' ite heretics are a sect of idolatry and apostasy. it is assumes that the Shi' ites are not Muslims at all. sermons. because sooner or later the hatreds generated at home will be directed toward theUnited States. Projecting their domestic struggle onto the external world. including Jews and Christians.

"is not less than the danger of the Jews and the Christians. both domestic and foreign. aprominent cleric andmember of the InternalFront. Al-Hawali characterized the petition as an attempt by the Shi'ite minority to tyrannize the Sunni majority. but it is not as detached from political reality as it seems.the Sunnis: in the thirteenth century they alignedwith theMongol invaders.wrote a long and vituperative response to the Shi' ite petition Abdullah accepted. Thus al-Ayyiri.Safar al-Hawali. "The danger of the Shi' ite heretics to the region. since other sects and other regional identitieswould clamor for political representation and soon overwhelm the system. an addled brain. If the Saudi authorities meet the demands regions. are indeed in cahoots to upend the status quo. Many other clerics for example. al-Hawali wrote.Recent events strongly suggest thatjihad of the Shi itepetitioners. The Shi ites offer an alternative notion of Islamic community and history. argued that the Shi' ites have hatched a long-term plot to-control the countries of the Persian Gulf. and they have political interests that coincide with those of Sunni reformers. the Shi' iteminorities in Sunni countriesare insinuatingthemselvesintopositionsof respon sibility so as to function as a fifth column for the enemies of true Islam. From this perspective. the Shi" ites have conspiredwith the foreign enemies of.And offering them evenminor political concessions now would be dangerous. The Saudi clerics and al Qaeda base their political analysis of the Shi'ites on two assumptions: thatWahhabism is true Islam and that it must have amonopoly over state policy. one oftwo outcomeswould result:Shi' ite States is a continuation government or a secular state. These attributes would allow the Shi ites to form a powerful political bloc should a participatory political system ever emerge. FOREIGN AFFAIRS January/February 2004 [47] . As part of this conspiracy. they tend to cluster in strategically key today they conspire with the Americans." he states. the al-Qaeda propagandist. Throughout history. conspiracy. they sharebondswith co-religionistsbeyond the borders of their country. al-Hawali contin against theUnited ued. All thismight sound like the product of of domestic politics. S. the various forces promoting Taqarub." warn of a Shi"ite-U.The Saudi Paradox Islam. the clerics say.

and close associates of the Jews. grafted onto this charge. theSaudi religious so with genocide. allies of theUnited States. the resultwould be a civil war.i 83 . on a communal scale. the same pattern as the threats that al-Khudayr directed against al Nuqaydan. such as the notion of a Jewish plot forworld domination. IsaacHasson. Shi' ously an offshoot ofJudaism. itwill act-a matter that could lead to the complete annihilation of the [Shi' ite] minority. Abdullah conspiracy theory lurks bin Saba. The clerics' anti-Shi ite campaign traces. making it all but un thinkable for Sunni reformers in Saudi Arabia to form alliances with them. for Traditional include themedieval Sunni myth that itwas Beneath the actually a Jewish convert to Islam. New attributesborrowedfrom realpolitical and modern antisemitism. have been economic interests. Just as the radical clerics pass death sentences on individual establishment periodicallythreatens reformers. In the neo-Wahhabi therefore. The clerics hope to place the Shi" ites in a kind of political quarantine.Michael ScottDoran Beneath theconspiracy therefore. and "if the [Sunni] majority gets riled. lurks very soberstruggle a theory. The last accusation merits particular attention. which aims to demonize them by comparing them to the Jews. who has urged the government to fire Shi' ites from all in Al-Umar has also insisted positionsof responsibility the country." Wahhabi teachings. of the Shi ites for example. example. ism is simultane campaignthat Hasson has identified. the cleric Safar al-Hawali warned the Shi" ites about the dangers of overreaching. [48] FOREIGN AFFAIRSVolume No.This means Shi' ism has a kind of Jewish DNA flowing a sober struggle over through it. he argued. In his refutation the Shi' itepetition. If theywere actually to succeed in establish ing a secular state. The reams of anti-Shi itematerial on Saudi religious Web sites aremarked by three persistent charges: that the Shi' ites are agents of Iran. a professor at theHebrew University inJerusalem." This thinly veiled threat carried even greater significance forhaving been published on theWeb site of another cleric and anti-Shi' ite firebrand. has identifiedwhat he calls a "neo-Wahhabi campaign against the Shi' ites. and an inveterate generator of grand plots to destroy Sunni Islam. the natural ally of Zio-Crusaderism. Nasir al-Umar.who invented Shi' ism. over real political and economic interests.

before the notion of aU. By giving clerics such as al-Umar privileged platforms from which to spread their doctrines. and fears about the future position ofWahhabi clerics in the Saudi political system. To foreign critics. something thatwent largelyunrecognized until thewar in Iraq.S. he can distance himself from al-Umar's extremism. however. has made him pay closer attention to this putative relationship. Rather than shutting such inflammatory voices down.Many factors lead him to preach a deep hatred of America. Washing ton has been supporting terroraround theworld.which strike terror into Shi' ite hearts. The fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. arresting hundreds of activists and confiscating large caches of weapons."who alliedwith each other in order to destroy the Sunnis. Al-Umar'sbookletpromotingethniccleansing written almost was a decade ago. meanwhile. claiming that the cleric speaks only for himself.No conceivable shift inU. but three aremost significant: a deep loathing of Shi' ites. role. As a consequence. THE IRAQ CONNECTION LAST YEAR'S suicide bombings in Riyadh forced Prince Nayef to crack down on extremists inside Saudi Arabia. a proposal that can only be described as an incitement to ethnic cleansing. Any analysis of the causes of anti-Americanism in Saudi Arabia has to account for people such as al-Umar.For 30 years. In FOREIGN AFFAIRS January/February 2004 [49] .He has thus returned to his pet theme of a grand Shi' ite plot but reshaped the story in light of the new political reality to include a prominent U. the Saudi security forces have clashed repeatedlywith militants.The Saudi Paradox that the government must find "aquick solution" to the Shi' ites'demo graphic domination of the eastern province. Prince Nayef finds it convenient to keep them on the streets: al-Umar runs amosque as a government employee and operates an attractiveWeb site. Nayef gets the best of both worlds.-Shi'ite conspiracy gained traction. he depicted theUnited States as the "nursemaid"of global terrorism.S.S.The war also demonstrated clearly "the strength of the bond between America and the Shi' ite heretics. at home. he stated. he can reap the benefit of al-Umar's threats. In a lecture he gave lastApril. an ingrained habit of associating themwith hostile external powers. policy would affect any of the three.

because those clerics are infidelapostates. but the Saudis are treating it as a great victory against extremism.The thousands of dis gruntled young men who looked to al-Khudayr for guidance are still angry. the Saudis have come back around to play their role as the strategic partner of theUnited States. for example.Michael Scott Doran Washington. As the case of Nasir al-Umar demonstrates. theseoperationshave helped to supporttheview that the Saudis have.What preoccupied him was not the Saudi security services' crackdown on al Qaeda but the rise of the Shi' ites in Iraq: We call openly on our brothers. the domestic Saudi conffictsthatoriginallygeneratedanti-Americanfeeling are still in operation. In lateNovember. Consider. Al Qaeda's nightmare scenario is that the Americans and the Iraqi Shi' ites will force Riyadh to enact broad reforms and bring the Saudi Shi' ites into the political community. Although this is certainlya positive development. and tokill everysatanicShi' ite Ayatollahwho befriends theAmericans-first among them the satanic AyatollahMuhammad Bahr al-Ulum and those likehim. become our close allies. coerced. they even allowed Mansur al-Nuqaydan to publish his columns again. Moreover. to kill the Sunni clericswho befriend the Americans. despite the recent crackdown. so the story goes.i . the rootsof Saudi unrest extend beyond the contest between these two figures. a statement thatAbu Abd al-Rahman al Najdi.Speaking from jail. issued in early October 2003. all themujahideen in Iraq. To emphasize the point. and the central question of whether to reduce the power of the clericsremainslockedin controversy. indicationssuggest that. or part of a political bargain.Even [50] FOREIGN AFFAIRS Volume83No. It is impos sible to saywhether this about-face was sincere. There is no question thatmany hard-line Saudi clerics share precisely the same fears. Likewisewe demand from theShi ite youth that they returnto thebook ofGod and theSunnaofMuhammad. an alQaeda spokesman. this optimistic view was reinforcedwhen Ali al on Khudayr recanted prime-time television. alQaeda and the establishment Saudi clerics still share a strong sense of the common enemy. once again.he renounced entirely his radical stance on takfirand jihad. After receiving awake-up call in May and a reminder inNovember.

and everyone with a stake in the status quo can be expected to rally around itwhen push comes to shove. They legitimize the daily attacks on American soldiers in Iraq's "Sunni Triangle. In Iraq. As Washington struggles to rebuild Iraq itwill thus find.@ FO R E IGN AF FA IRS January/February 2004 [51 ] . intentions."cried one group. Nonetheless. and the opponents of the old systemwere-and remain-fragmented and leaderless. The dazed onlookers who crowded around the in one rubble Najafimmediately askedthemselves question: Who did it? "Wahhabis. as odious as the regime of Saddam Hussein was. there are forces in the kingdom who would be willing to support the efforts of a Saudi Gorbachev. The Saudi religious establishment's views regarding theAmerican Shilite conspiracy are not simply an internal Saudi matter. changing the situationwill be difficult. but it is not clearwhen orwhether one will appear." aswell attacks such as the anti-Shi' ite suicide bombing in Najaf lastAugust. that theUnited States supported Saddam Hussein against them. because theUnited States has limited means of muting the anti-Shi' ism and anti-Americanism theclericsespouse. Saudi Arabia is in turmoil. Clearly. and like it or not-the United States is deeply involved. "Baathists. that its closest Arab ally is also one of itsmost bitter enemies. Saudi clerics preached the doctrine of ajewish-American conspiracy to destroy Islam."cried another. But the very attempt to create amore liberal political order will set off new disputes. it still enjoyed a social base of support in the center of the country. Washington faces a similar problem. once again.Now that American forces have unshackled the Iraqi Shi" ites. Wahhabism is the foundation of an entire political system.The Saudi Paradox before theUnited States attackedAfghanistan.S.In SaudiArabia. that Getting Riyadh todivorce itself from radical Wahhabism will be as great a task as getting the Soviet Union to renounce communism. after the events of 1991. The United States has no choice but to press hard for democratic reforms. If Washington maintains business as usualwith Riyadh. itwill not be long before the IraqiShi' ites will conclude that theUnited States covertlysupports theWahhabi bombers who blow up their mosques just as they concluded. which will inevitably generate anti-American feelings. itwould be naive to expect those clerics to take amore benign view of U.

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