2004 May 03 Monday
Wahhabi Terrorists Biting The Saudi Hands That Fed Them

Writing in the Jerusalem Post Paris-based Iranian writer Amir Taheri describes the battles within Saudi Arabia between the government and Islamic insurgents.

According to Saudi sources, the kingdom's security forces have clashed with terrorists on no fewer than 80 occasions since last November. Some of these seem to have been fairly large-scale battles, including at least one fought on the edge of the Empty Quarter six weeks ago. There have been hundreds of casualties on both sides. More than 1,000 alleged terrorists have been captured. The security forces have also uncovered arms caches that could supply fairly large terror units. Losses by the security forces are not reported, but a recent meeting between the interior minister and families of the "heroes slain by deviants" attracted a large turnout.

Oil money has funded the educational system that has done so much to promote the radical Wahhabi Islam that has turned so many Muslims toward violence.

In 1960 the kingdom did not have enough money for a single state-sponsored school of theology. Today there are hundreds, including three universities producing tens of thousands of Islam "experts" each year.

Who paid for all those Islamic religious fundamentalist schools? We did, every time we pulled up to a gas pump to fill it up. We are still doing it.

Oil money is also flowing from Gulf oil states into Iraq to promote Wahhabism there as well.

But Mohammed Mohammed Ali, a moderate Shiite scholar propagating interfaith harmony as the only possible means to bring peace to Iraq, does not see things that way.

"In the last 10 years there have been huge transfers of funds to Iraq to make Muslims convert from their own sect to extreme Wahhabism," he said. "This happened with the support from politicians in the Gulf states and many other Arab countries."

At the risk of boring my regular readers with repetition: Energy policy is national security policy. By failing to try harder to develop technologies to obsolesce oil we are failing to address a serious national security problem.

Update: Attacks within Saudi Arabia that are killing Saudis are not dulling the enthusiasm of the Saudi citizenry for attacks against Americans elsewhere. Even as they cheer Jihadis who attack Americans most Saudis are disgusted by the Jihadis who kill Saudi Arabians.

"When people see Israeli operations in Palestine and the American cruelty in Iraq, they feel angry and frustrated," said Abdullah Bejad al-Oteibi, a former fundamentalist now working as a legal researcher. "They cannot control their anger and they admire bin Laden, so that is why many people volunteer for jihad. But when there are operations here, people feel angry and betrayed."

The Saudi problem is not going to go away. Hence the need to treat energy policy as natioanl security policy. We can accelerate the rate of advance of science and technology as a way to greatly lessen the problem that Saudi Arabia will continue to pose for many years to come.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 May 03 02:41 AM  Religion Secular Ideologies

Luke Lea said at May 3, 2004 8:32 AM:

You speak of the need to develop alternative energy technologies as part of a "national security strategy." My criticism is that this is a long-run answer to a short and medium term problem. Life is lived one generation at a time. Even if there were to occur some miraculous technological breakthrough -- say, practical fusion at low cost, or maybe a clean and cheap way to burn coal, or super efficient solar cells -- it would still take at least a generation to transition to the new age of alternative energy; in the meantime the world economy, in which the U.S. economy is deeply embedded, would remain vulnerable to Mid East disruptions of supply. In other words, there is no prospect of the West's being able to divorce itself from political developments in that part of the world within the forseeable future. Which is not to say we shouldn't step up our efforts to developing these alternative technologies -- but for the sake of our grandchildren more than for the sake of ourselves and our children. To think otherwise is a delusion, IMHP.

Randall Parker said at May 3, 2004 10:09 AM:

Luke, A few points:

1) Islamic terrorism is a short, medium, and long term problem.

2) A huge energy research program would start producing useful results in a few years. The amount of useful results produced per year would increase each year as longer term projects reached fruition. The cumulative effect of the increased amount of knowledge would increase even faster.

3) A partial transition to different energy forms would reduce demand for oil and hence the world price of oil would decline. This would reduce the amount of money available for activities that are problematic for us.

4) The threat of the huge energy research project would cause all countries with oil reserves to accelerate exploration and production in order to sell the oil before it becomes much less valuable. This too would reduce the amount of money available for mischief.

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