Saudi Arabia and Wahhabism

Pure original Islam Mohammed was born with it 1500 years ago, then was carried with his four successors (Caliphs).

The suite is more complicated, the branches of the tree being increased, including through common Sunnis and Shiites , each claiming legitimacy authenticity of the Abbasids to the Ottomans, through the Umayyads.

Today, he is plural and even very diverse: Afghan mountains to Nigerian trays, Saël sands of the plains of the Caucasus, from the deserts of Saudi Arabia to the Parisian suburbs, proliferate very different religious practices, despite playing a common book, the Koran.

Since the late Caliphates, many theologians have sought to restore Islam to its point of origin, the sources of the doctrine proposed by the Prophet. These theologians defended Islam the « Salaf », that is to say the « ancestors » are that Mohammed and the first four caliphs (to Ali). This will of theological purity, free of all subsequent innovations, logically is called Salafism: Islam ancestors.

The most emblematic of these legalistic theologians certainly was Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab . Contemporary of Voltaire and Rousseau, he navrait to see the slow decline of the Ottoman Empire, then representing the Muslim world, facing the rising power of the West. For Abdelwahhab, Islam was once strong as it was faithful to the teaching of the Prophet (the Qur’an and the Hadith (Sunnah)). The gentrification of some families, the creation of a class of aristocrats sedentary but idol worship, superstition, had the Muslim world, a land of second zone, far from his dazzling conquests of the past. So he preached for a return to authentic religious practice, which once did the strength of Islam: the return to the text and its literal reading, without human interpretation, without metaphor or convolution!

He was the founder of the movement that still bears his name today: the Wahhabism that have can be summarized in two points:

  • its purpose is to reconfirm the principle of monotheism (oneness of God or Tawheed);
  • he rejects this as democracy and secularism, eminently Western value, such as to pervert the Muslim faith.

The political alliance of Abdelwahhab with a local Saudi chief (Mohamed Ben Saud) had two major consequences:

  • rapid dissemination of current in the Arabian Peninsula, which has become the temple of Wahhabism ;
  • the establishment of a strong state: the Saudi Arabia .

Are two opposing Wahhabism in today embodied:

  • firstly, by DAECH (the Islamic State) in Syria and Iraq, which advocates armed struggle to impose, if necessary by force, the principles of original Islam: DAESH therefore not hesitate not to make war against other Muslims they consider perverted and wicked and of course to the disbelievers;
  • secondly, by Saudi Arabia , which emphasizes education (faith) and piety rejects jihad and claims a separation between the spiritual and temporal power. The Saudi Arabia does not reject proselytism , but considering the way appeased by preaching alone.

These two tributaries of the same religious river view each other as heretics, which in particular explains the recent engament of Saudi Arabia in the bombing of DAESH and promise of the jihadist group to eradicate these kings of Saudi Arabia to US pay.

The pact with the Devil

The Saudis maintain power through a large gap between the West , which guarantees their safety abundant exchange of oil and clergy Wahhabi that provides it legitimacy, provided that the power of the state is at the service of their rigorous Islam;

This double-pact is necessarily fragile and subject to great stress; the W ahhabisme feeding a fierce hatred against the West and Westerners seeing no difference between Wahhabism and the jihadists of the Islamic State behead arm towers.

The West, for its part, has two options:

  • continue to humiliate pampering the kingdom in exchange for oil;
  • risk, what to we do not know, inviting the same realm to the radical change (in favor of human rights or rather a woman).

The first option is the one that best meets the Western realism requirements, considering that it is better to have the Saudis in his camp, and with them control of the holy places, than for enemies: United in fact, true to his vision of Wahhabism , denounced the violent jihadism and bring stability to the region. Moreover, a collapse of the Saudi monarchy would open the field of the unknown.

Moreover, strange as it may seem, the Saudis have often shown the most reformist of a Muslim world particularly narrow. Cautiously, King Abdullah has left more room for women in public life, has encouraged the education of young Saudis, especially in Western universities. He sought to convince the leaders of the Arab world to proposed in 2002 a peace pact with Israel. If the Saudis were to be swept away by the wind of history, their replacements would shine certainly not the fire of democracy or the emancipation of women.

But realism does not semple realistic: the main risk for the Saudis is related to the slow pace of reforms and it could be they are so overwhelmed. The Wahhabism should feed jeopardizes the outside world but also their dynasty: it supports the jihadist ideology, encourages bigotry and puts the monarchy before its cruel contradictions.

Today the power of the rentier state is declining: oil prices fall generating unemployment for young people. Strict obedience to the clergy also seems crack among the younger generations, women started working and social networks difficult to control organizing a space of freedom. To govern this country changing, the Saudis must accept pluralism, both in politics and religion. And they need for this, a little bit ofp … hands.

So he should Westerners maintain their support, while conditioning it advances, particularly in the field of justice, riddled with religious and therefore intolerant.

Mr. Obama should take the same path that he borrowed in China and Russia by providing the agenda of his meetings with the new King Salman human rights, respect for minorities and the role of women which still does not have the right to drive.

After all, friends, we can talk frankly …

Saudi Arabia at risk

Shiism threatening

This is outside the country that the dangers are the most threatening: the Sunni kingdom sees with concern the expansion of Shiism at its borders:

  • Iran , first of all, where the great rival of the Middle East seeking to acquire nuclear weapons; unacceptable to the Saudis on this rejoin the Western position;
  • in Iraq , where the government installed by the Americans after the second Iraq war is supported discreet little against the Islamic state;
  • in Yemen in recent days, where Shiite rebels overthrow me just government.

A Sunni disconcerting

In addition, his pious version, but non-violent Sunni-Wahhabi Islam is incompatible with Sunni Islam conqueror whose claims to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas in Gaza, the Islamic State or al Qaeda. In this regard, members of the royal family were subject to bombings in 2000, all claimed by al Qaeda. Prince Muhammad then instructed to expel the terrorist group outside the borders of the kingdom.

The fall in oil prices

L es oil revenues still account for 80% of the UK budget. They allow it to finance a health system and generous education and subsidize many subsidized jobs for the 30 million subjects. These revenues declined of course, but cash reserves are pharaonic: we speak of more than 700 billion of reserves! There is enough currency to feed all the princes and members of the clergy still many years. Moreover, the fall in oil prices is orchestrated by the Saudis, who see a double interest:

  • weaken the Iranian rival already hit hard by international sanctions;
  • torpedo shale gas extraction projects in the US, which have recently become a serious competitor in the crude oil market.

In short, the monarchy has no interest in putting its pumps dormant.

One downside to this picture: Saudi Arabia risk, from 2030, to run out of oil.

A more liberal kingdom?

We are in an absolute monarchy, where, when the king dies, his brother or son becomes mechanically King. The idea of consulting the people is not even touched. So Salman is the half brother of the late King and his first political decision was to appoint his successor Muhammad bin Nayef, his nephew, current interior minister.

It seems that the population is very conservative. Few Saudis question the legitimacy of the royal family. Before the establishment of the kingdom in 1932, the country was subject to incessant tribal warfare, epidemics were frequent and expectancy very low life. Ibn Saud managed to draw a line under this troubled time imposing its rules, through war and astute marriages. Stability and security offered by the regime allowed him to deflect the winds of the Arab Spring that swept to other lands.

The claimant population is more when it comes to social reform: but beware, the term is to be taken with caution here. The middle class, for example, estimates that the royal family is too liberal.

On this subject, the danger comes from the outside; social networks whose young population is particularly fond; many overseas students and parties who bring in liberal ideas.

Salman said to be less liberal than his predecessor … Will he long resist winds from the West which he so desperately needs?