BUILDING A COUNTRY – DESERT STYLE

Posted: January 25, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Saudi Arabia is the desert kingdom that leads many to think of a waste land with little more than oil that would be of any interest to any human. While oil is very important, Saudi is a country rich in history and holds a vast beauty that is much different than the beauty we possess in the hill country of North Louisiana.
The history of the country dates back to Biblical times and trade routes crossed the desert country. A friend found two beautiful bronze arrow heads in the east of the country. It was not until he visited the Museum of Natural History in Cairo, Egypt that he discovered where the projectile points came from. This was a thousand mile journey across desert tracks.
Mohammed, the founder of Islam, unified the country until his death in 632 AD. Then different factions morphed the country into geographical areas controlled by tribal groups. The two holiest cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina, are located in Saudi Arabia.
The Turkish Ottoman Empire finally conquered the Saudi Arabian peninsula and held on to it until the end of WWI when Britain helped to throw the Turks out. This was the world that Lawrence of Arabia lived in. The present country was still not unified into a sovereign country. It would take a desert warrior to take control of the country and unify it.
Abdul Aziz, also known as Ibn Saud, began his unification in 1902. He took control of Riyadh which his family had lost control of years earlier. Then in 1922 he took control of the geographical area known as the Nehd and then the Hejaz in 1925. In 1932 he became the King of Saudi Arabia.
Ibn Saud was a very savvy negotiator and he also understood that he would be controlling a large land mass with little communication routes. He had to find a way to bind the country together with some common thread. He had no army to garrison in numerous villages across one of the poorest countries in the world. He had to build loyalty for his Kingdom. What better way to unify the Kingdom than with blood, his own blood.
The religion allowed a man to have three wives. When Saud would conquer a new land he would divorce one of his wives and would take a wife from the tribe that he had just conquered. When the new wife had a child, the child became a prince of Saudi Arabia and thus became a prestigious individual within the country. This was a very important part to building the country and then holding control of the vast territory. In 1938 oil was discovered in Arabia and production began in 1941. The princes of the country shared in a new found wealth that led the country to be one of the most affluent in the world.
In a monarchy there is an understood chain of succession. Most countries have this chain going from father to son and then from the son to his son and so on. This is not so in Saudi Arabia. King Saud transferred his title to all of his sons. The oldest son alive would gain control of the country. There is also a council that must approve the next in line. This insures that the ruler will possess the tools to reign over the country. When the first king died his son Saud became king. Saud was deposed due to a lack of monetary control and his decadent life style. Faisal then took over and was later assassinated. King Khalid was in power when I arrived in Saudi Arabia. Faud then came to power. Abdullah took control in 2005 and remained king until his death last week. Price Salman became king at Abdullah’s death and this ends the succession of kings from Ibn Saud’s sons. Salman is the last living son of the founder of Saudi Arabia.
It will now start over again with Salman’s sons becoming the next in line to succeed the monarchy. It will be interesting to see how long the monarchy will remain in power. This is one of the last bastions of a true monarchy and is a fossil of a distant past. When it does fall it can only be hoped that we maintain our good international relations with the new government. Saudi Arabia is one of our strongest allies in the Arabian Gulf area and has supported America for many decades in include anti-terrorist activities and anti-Iranian expansion.
It is imperative that we provide support for the new Salman government. He has internal pressures that will be magnified by low revenues from Oil and Gas sales. He also has ISIS knocking on his door. A major part of the success of our war against ISIS will reside with the new Saudi government.

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