ISSN 2330-717X

Saudi Arabia And The Arab revolutions


By Hassan Hanizadeh

Some 132 Saudi intellectuals, scholars and professors at the kingdom’s universities have written a letter to the Saudi king, urging change in the ruling system of the House of Saud’s regime.

In the letter, which has been published on credible websites, Saudi elites have accused the regime of crackdown on people, restricting freedom, censorship and plundering the people’s wealth.

They have asked the monarch to establish a type of constitutional monarchy through implementing political reforms.

The open letter was followed by the entitlement of Friday, March 4 as the “Day of Rage” in the country.

The day saw thousands of Shias in the east staging massive protests and chanting slogans against the House of Saud’s fascist government in an unprecedented move.

Saudi security forces and Royal Guards arrested hundreds of Shia youths and took them to the kingdom’s ghastly security centers.

Throughout the House’s ominous rule, the Saudi Shias, who comprise 15 percent of the 25,000,000 population in the country, have not enjoyed the most inconsequential of civil rights.

For decades, the children of the noble minority have been barred from state-run schools, its youths not allowed in the state-run organizations and the armed forces and its share of oil income taken away.

A sociological look at the Saudi ruling structure shows that the country is governed by the powerful tribes of al-Sudayri and al-Shammar, which make for the backbone of the House of Saud’s regime.

Al-Sudayri, which is rated as the most influential Saudi tribe, holds all leverages in the military, security, religious, political and cultural areas.

The al-Shammar tribe is the second in power and is active in the economic and educational areas. Each tribe has other clans subsumed under itself.

In none of the bargaining positions has there been a place defined for the Shias, whose population is concentrated in the oil-rich east.

The painful and penurious life of the Saudi Shias, who mainly reside in the suburbs of Medina, points to a gaping chasm in the Saudi society.

The Shias are only active in planting, cultivating and harvesting palm trees. They are prohibited from entering state-run schools and being employed in governmental centers and are deprived of the most rudimentary means of modern life.

The House of Saud’s regime bans them from travelling abroad because the disadvantaged class is not given Saudi passports.

At the outset of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, the Saudi Shias, who have spent years under the scourge of the House, tried their hands at some political movements, but faced fierce suppression.

Thousands of Shia youths from the cities of Qatif, Al-Ahsa and Dhahran were arrested by gruesome Saudi security organizations in 1981 and subjected to most severe tortures.

Uneven distribution of wealth and the Saudi rulers’ dependence on the United States and the West has created serious dissatisfaction among the Saudi elites and educated figures.

A recent article by a Saudi university professor, published on the Al-Watan website, claimed, through accurate calculations, that the House had stolen $2,000 billion from the oil income over the past 50 years.

Pointing out the corruption of the rulers, the professor had insisted that the tsunami of change would soon reach the gates of the kingdom, overthrowing the leadership.

The contributor as well as some other professors were soon apprehended and transferred to an unknown location.

The protests in the east and the arrest of the Saudi elites are new phenomena, which pose serious threats to the brittle regime of the House of Saud.

As the tsunami has covered the Arab world, the Saudis, both Sunnis and Shias, have launched new movements aimed at creating change in the country’s intensely-secured environment.

The movements would definitely increase in the days to come and will spread to all Saudi cities.

The demands of people would not be limited to a series of individual and social freedom and would pose threats to the tribal structure of House of Saud’s regime.

It has been insisted in the requests by the Saudi people and elites that government should not be the monopoly of the House and a United Nations-monitored plebiscite should determine the type of the ruling structure.

Saudis believe that the country should not be governed like 80 years ago anymore, and the circle of cooperation should involve all social and political spectrums and not only the Royal family.

The elites, who mostly live in exile, have recently engaged themselves in structuring an ideal ruling structure, using the cyber space and internet sites.

The new system, which is a composite of democratic republics and the British-styled constitutional monarchy, the power will be taken out of King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz and the governmental affairs are given to elites outside the circle of the House of Saud.

The compilation of a constitution, redefining of the power structures, establishment of a senate and a national council and creation of a selected regulatory committee on distribution of the oil wealth are all aspects of the new government structure, devised by the Saudi opposition.

Women, who have so far been denied the right to take part in social and political affairs, would also find themselves a special place in the new system.

Shias, regarded as al-Hejaz’s age-old citizens with an identity as rich as the history of the Islamic civilization, would also be awarded full civil rights.

Therefore, despite the assumption by the US and the Western countries that Saudi Arabia would not see damage due to its relative affluence, the country is going through hard times and would sooner or later be overwhelmed by revolution.

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