by Mazin Qumsiyeh
The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Nayef Al-Saud died at age 78. Nayef was the Interior Minister known for his “efficient” crackdown on dissent and thus was praised by US administrators for dealing with “terrorism” (the same administrators who tortured and “rendered” subjects to be tortured). I will briefly write information that may be new to some you about this ruling family.
The founder of this kingdom was his father AbdulAziz Al- Saud (1876-1953) whose family made income by raids especially on the area of the Rashid clan who ruled much of the Arabian Peninsula then under the Ottoman Empire. AbdulAziz consolidated his rule with British arms via wars against other ruling families and not just Al-Rashid but Al-Hashemites (also installed by the British to rule part of Arabia). He established a western-leaning “kingdom” and named it after his family “Saudi Arabia”.
He married over 20 wives and had 37 children. Today’s succession of elderly men ruling Saudi Arabia were/are his children: Saud, Faisal (assassinated), Khalid, Fahd, and now 87-year old Abdullah. There are 7000 members of the “Royal Family” and they do not get along with each other and many are decent human beings.
Yet, much of the people’s wealth is in the hands of the elite few, deposited in Western Banks and profiting Zionists. Over $1 billion oil revenue flows in EVERY DAY. Another source of income for the kingdom is from millions of pilgrims flocking to Mecca and Medina for the Haj. The trillions gathered could have made every citizen of the kingdom comfortably rich but there are over 20% unemployment and the disparity between rich and poor is one of the highest in the world.
This Arab wealth could have helped develop sustainable economy in an integrated Arab world. The Arab world, rich in natural resources and educated and talented people, could have become far more advanced than Europe or the US. Instead, we remain mired in feudalism, tribalism, paternalism, factionalism, sexism, consumerism, autocracy, and excessive religiosity (promoted by rulers to keep people down).
The Ottoman Sultan AbdulHamid was forced to relinquish power because he refused to acquiesce to the Zionist project in Palestine. By contrast, the founder of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia wrote with his own hand in 1915:
“I the Sultan Abdel Aziz Bin Abdel Alrahman Al-Faysal Al-Saud decide and acknowledge a thousand times to Sir Percy Cox representative of Great Britain that I have no objection to give Palestine to the poor Jews or to others as seen [fit] by Great Britain that I would not go outside [disobey] its opinion until the hour of calling [end of the world].” (See Qumsiyeh, Popular Resistance in Palestine”, Pluto Press 2011).
So while the kingdom’s population grew, its riches continued to pass through the hands of people like these, individuals who routinely violate human rights, supported by Britain and now the USA.