Insurgency in Waiting: Iraq May Be the Jihad Superbowl, But Saudi Arabia Is Still Al-Qaeda's Top Prize

(Foreign Policy) Richard L. Russell - Riyadh spends billions on defense and internal security forces every year, but it may not have what it takes to defeat a determined insurgency. Al-Qaeda's kinship with the Wahhabi religious establishment makes it popular within the kingdom and provides fertile ground for recruitment and operations. The Wahhabis also have a longstanding relationship with the royal family, through which they accept oil largesse in exchange for providing political and religious legitimacy to the regime. While the al-Qaeda insurgency in Saudi Arabia is likely to grow, the reliability of Saudi internal security is in doubt. The May 2003 bombings of residential compounds in Riyadh required insider knowledge that was almost certainly provided by the Saudi security detail at the compound. In June 2004, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula announced that elements in the Saudi police provided official uniforms and police vehicles to the group that carried out the execution of the American worker Paul Johnson, and set up false roadblocks as well. The problem will only get worse as Saudi insurgents begin returning from Iraq, ready to employ their on-the-job training. Tackling this entrenched problem will require political skill, grit, and determination. So far, it's not clear that the aging and conservative Saudi leadership is up to the task. The writer teaches at the National Defense University's Near East and South Asia Center for Strategic Studies.

2005-11-18 00:00:00

Full Article


Visit the Daily Alert Archive