The media punditry and noise about the upcoming Gulf GCC summit with President Obama at Camp David have exposed certain facts about Saudi Arabia and its relations and aspirations within the region. They have exposed a deep inferiority complex and dangerous insecurity that have exacerbated instability in the Middle East. Just look at the mess that Syria and Iraq and Yemen have become. Let us look at the few countries that the Saudis feel threatened by and create this inferiority complex:
Iran: has some 77 million native people, a diverse economy that has withstood the Western blockade for decades, despite economic mismanagement by the mullahs and lower (deliberately engineered) petroleum prices. It is relatively highly advanced in technology: nuclear and space and medical as well as other industries, probably partly a result of a self reliance forced by the blockade.
Iraq: some 30 million (now), multi-cultural with huge untapped petroleum reserves, and a diverse economy.
Egypt: some 80 million people, a potentially diverse economy and dormant technical knowledge.
Yemen: even poor Yemen has a larger population than Saudi Arabia (26 million citizens against some 16 million Saudi citizens). And an interesting ancient history.
Turkey: a relatively new state with a short history by Middle East standards, but a diverse economy and a gateway to Europe. If only the Caliph Erdogan would stop supporting Jihadi cutthroats in Arab politics.
(Israel: the outlier in the group, but militarily powerful and technically the most advanced in the Middle East. They don’t worry about it because it is non-Islamic non-Arab and hence not a rival; besides, it is either a real or a potential ally against the others).
All these countries have a long history of settled civilization, some of the oldest in the world (with the exception of Turkey).
Is it any wonder the Saudis feel insecure, when they have to rely on foreign labor and foreign products and imported mercenaries to such an extent? When the princes have to pay Sudanese and Moroccans and Senegalese to fight their wars, even against impoverished Yemen? Now they are supreme within the small club of the Gulf GCC. They are assured to remain the largest state, the big man in the club. That is why they will never accept any new members, rivals that are larger and/or more advanced. That is why they will try to make sure other larger states in the region, real and potential rivals, remain distant and weak.
That is why they do the voodoo that they do: try to keep the Western blockade on Iran, keep Egypt weak and politically divided and subservient, try to keep Iraq divided, try in vain to get and keep control of Yemen.
That is why they introduced their strongest strategic weapon so far: politicized modern Islamic sectarianism. They have (re)introduced it into the region and use it extensively to divide and weaken their rivals and maintain their power at home. The alleged Sunni-Shi’a war is in reality an attempt to extend the Wahhabi war on other Islamic sects, on other faiths.
What are ISIS and Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and AQAP and the rest of the intolerant Jihadi gangs but Wahhabism taken literally to its extreme? Speaking of which: reports now tell us that Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Turkey are backing Al Nusra Front in Syria, the certified approved Al Qaeda franchise in that country. Anything for the appearance of an elusive victory on their rivals.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum