Ten major challenges that Saudi Arabia survived

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Okaz newspaper

THE Kingdom of Saudi Arabia throughout its political history encountered many challenges and obstacles that could have limited the country's role and put an end to a civilizational project that extended back to 300 years. The wisdom of our leaders and their accumulated political experience, and the solidarity of the Saudi people, helped the country overcome all the obstacles with little or no losses and astonishing victories.

One of those incidents took place more than 100 years ago during the unification battles led by King Abdul Aziz, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, when he tried to win over Arab tribes to support the establishment of the Third Saudi State. The country was in the middle of a deep conflict as it scraped through two world wars that were waged close by, killing and displacing tens of millions of people. Then came the war of "Sabla", where extremists led a mutiny against King Abdul Aziz. The mutineers believed that they have a religious duty to topple King Abdul Aziz and impose their extremist ideology on the land. This was one of the major challenges during the unification of Saudi Arabia. King Abdul Aziz rejected the extremist ideology and managed to suppress the mutiny.

The second incident took place after the unification of the country. Enemies circulated rumors that King Abdul Aziz had the intention of demolishing the green dome on the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah. This lie was supported by rival politicians who wished to see the country wilt in its early years itself. The wisdom of King Abdul Aziz led him to hold a major Islamic conference to which he invited leaders of the Muslim world. He wanted to discuss with them their pressing issues while reassuring them that the Kingdom would protect and defend the holy sites. King Abdul Aziz succeeded in his mission and gained the trust of the Muslim leaders.

The third was the media campaigns, conspiracies and coup plots, supported by Baathist, communist and nationalist powers against Saudi Arabia. It first started during the era of King Saud, who succeeded King Abdul Aziz, and intensified during the time of King Faisal. The coup against the royalty in Yemen was the result of a vicious war between loyalists and the putschists. Egyptian leader Gamal Abdul Nasser sided with the Yemeni revolutionaries and declared an open war against Saudi Arabia, to the extent that he launched strikes against the southern Saudi cities, and even Taif. Despite that, the Kingdom overcame those difficult times with the wisdom and political acumen of its leaders.

The fourth and the most painful incident was the siege of the Grand Mosque in Makkah by Juhaiman and his gang. The Saudis were shocked when Juhaiman and his followers killed hundreds of innocent pilgrims and civilians in addition to security officers. This incident was something that shook the Saudi conscience. However, Saudi authorities were able to tackle the issue and end the siege before it escalated.

The fifth challenge was the Iran-Iraq war and the Iranian efforts to export its revolutionary ideology to the neighboring Arab and Gulf countries. This led Saudi Arabia to engage directly in a military confrontation with Iran over the Arabian Gulf. Saudi Arabia bore the financial burden and supplied Iraq with what it needed to stand up to the destructive Iranian project.

The sixth challenge was the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the mobilization of a million Iraqi soldiers across the Saudi border. With absolute wisdom and tactful leadership, King Fahd led the country to victory as he was able to mobilize 30 countries to liberate Kuwait and eliminate the Iraqi threat.

The seventh was the events of 9/11, which could be described as the most perilous incident since Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt invaded and sacked Diriya, the capital of the First Saudi State, killing or displacing its people. Those who planned the events of 9/11 wanted to involve Saudi Arabia in a war with America, a war that it cannot afford to fight. But because of the legacy of political relations between the two countries and their experience in wisely dealing with such crises, the Kingdom was able to leave the issue safely behind.

The eighth threat was the Al-Qaeda terror network launching operations inside the Kingdom with the explicit support of the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar, which made it possible for the Al-Qaeda leaders to enter the Kingdom using Qatari passports, money and weapons. It was a war of terror, and fights in the streets and residential compounds killed hundreds of innocent people. Saudi Arabia was aware of the Al-Qaeda threat and managed to eradicate its roots in the Kingdom.

The ninth was the so-called "Arab Spring" and plots to divide Saudi Arabia into small pieces and export the upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt to the country. Again Saudi Arabia managed not only to contain the internal crisis but also to assist Bahrain and Yemen to put down uprisings that started in those countries. Saudi Arabia also supported Egypt and Tunisia to retain control.

The 10th challenge was the Istanbul incident, which with all its details was an isolated case. Enemies of Saudi Arabia wanted to invest in this accident to harm the country or at least sow the seeds of chaos. But again Saudi Arabia proved that it could emerge from any crisis and conspiracy stronger than before.


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