Saddam's Fall Unsettles Stagnant Region

(Los Angeles Times) Megan K. Stack - One year after the campaign to oust Saddam, other regimes have lost their sense of invulnerability and appear uncertain of the new order. In autocratic regimes such as those in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, they say, discussion of change has become a tool of rulers - a way to ease U.S. pressure, discourage unrest and, above all, keep a firm grip on power. The House of Saud is battling an armed internal uprising, international pressure to reform its Islamic fundamentalist culture, and a clamor for democratization from political activists. The vast land that yielded Islam's prophet is also the birthplace of the modern jihad movement, fed during the Cold War by Saudi petrodollars, U.S. tax money, and the fiery preaching of the kingdom's conservative Wahhabi clerics. Asked about the number of men who rushed across Saudi Arabia's long border to fight the Americans, a Western diplomat said, "We're talking thousands, not hundreds."

2004-03-26 00:00:00

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