Studying the problems which the Dictatorial Regime Royal Family in Saudi Arabia is facing, one sometimes wonders why they bother with the small stuff? The Saudis face the mammoth task of bringing what was, only some seventy-five years ago a feudal-based semi-nomadic society, into modern times and attitudes. They have some formidable obstructions to overcome, with an ill-educated (in terms of knowledge of the outside world) population, a hostile environment which militates itself against the nation being able to feed itself, the drawbacks of having to revile the State of Israel when in actuality those two countries almost think as one in terms of business, and very few natural resources except that of the obstacle of having the largest supply, so far discovered, of oil on this energy-hungry planet. You might blink at my previous final phrase in that sentence, but obstacle certainly it is! Just think if your country, your nation; suddenly found that it didn’t need to invent, it didn’t need to diversify, it didn’t need to do anything to ensure it’s survival in a globally-connected trading world, it didn’t even need to defend itself, because it’s largest and most powerful customer was willing to expend the blood of it’s own young warriors to ensure the safety of their oil supplies.
They have Armed Forces, true; but although well-equipped in terms of modern technology, they are forced to splinter and fragment those same forces for fear that a single General or even an ambitious Major could get sufficient leverage to organise a coup. They have tried and to a certain extent succeeded in bringing a new vision to their cities, but unfortunately that same vision is one which is blinkered and overshadowed by the one thing which those same Saudi Royals have clung to because of it’s unflinching support through thick and thin; and that thing is of course Islam, and more specifically the Wahabbi sect which to a very large degree is the true ruler of Saudi Arabia. The insistence on the second-class category for all women, the ridiculous arrangements whereby any female, including a widow is not allowed to even drive herself or evn be in the company of an unmarried man without a male family member as a chaperone is the single largest obstacle to progress in Saudi Arabia.
I referred to the small stuff in my first paragraph, but perhaps the problems I write about are in fact the building blocks and foundations of the Saudi State, and that is where the real problems lie! We see the insanity of arranged child marriages, such as the one only recently where the divorced mother of an eight year-old girl attempted to block the marriage of that same small child to a 47 year-old man because the girl’s father owed the prospective groom a large sum of money, and the girl was the price agreed to relase that debt. The Appeal Courts were no help to the mother, because they simply sent the case back to the judge involved in the first case, and what judge, Sharia or Western, is going to overrule his own decisions? We remember the deaths of those fifteen schoolgirls in a fire in Riyadh, condemned to death by the Religious Police because they were not ‘modestly dressed’while trying to escape from the flames! We remember the shock in the voices of the mullahs when they discovered that American women, within the Armed forces sent to protect Saudi Arabia, were actually driving by themselves, and the simultaneous discovery that thousands of young American soldiers routinely carried their Bibles as part of their equipment packs. We see the lunacy of the authorities proscribing against ‘personalised’ license plates on cars, mainly because the Religious Brotherhood dislikes any freedom which they have not specifically authorised!
The route towards modernisation is blocked for the Saudi rulers, as long as they maintain their allegiance towards Islam, and the Wahabbis of that belief. Their road ahead is perhaps cloudy, but there is a fork in the road, and they have to choose their path. If they choose the true modernisation route, they face possible rebellion, if not internal revolt, because the men of Saudi Arabia know full well which side their bread, earned with their oil, is buttered! If they choose to go down the route of the ‘status quo’, they face stagnation, because all virile nations grow through knowledge, and without growth, that Society which the Royals defend so strenuously will fade and die, as it surely should!