Dagens konflikt i Saudi-Arabia går minst 100 år tilbake. Daniel Pipes har en nyttig gjennomgang.

I 1920 hadde kongedømmet en styrke de kalte ikhwan, støttropper som erobret Mekka fra hashemittene. Disse var ekstremt puristisk orienterte, ville en ren, spartansk form for islam. Til sist måtte herskeren nedkjempe dem, en kamp som varte helt til 1930.

Det er helt klare paralleller mellom datidens Ikhwan og dagens Al Qaida. Ikhwan appellerer til det rene, det opprinnelige. Det har vært der hele tiden, men opplever nå en renessanse, når Saudi-Arabia står overfor moderniteten, og ikke har noe svar.

Den ekstreme retningen har ihvertfall mer støtte enn de som vil ha reformer, skriver Pipes, som likevel later til å tro at regimet står støtt, foreløpig.

Seen in today’s terms, the Ikhwan resembled the Taliban in their greater purity and extremism and Abdul-Aziz resembled his sons who continue to rule the less pure kingdom he founded. His victory in 1930 meant that a milder version of Wahhabism defeated the more fanatical version. If the Saudi monarchy has always been more rigorously Islamic than its neighbours, it has also been lax by the earlier standards of the Wahhabi doctrine.

True, the monarchy claims the Koran as its constitution, prohibits any non-Islamic religious practices, sponsors the notorious Mutawwa religious police, and orders a strict separation of the sexes. But this is mild compared to the Ikhwan version, for the monarchy does promulgate non-Koranic laws, it tacitly permits non-Islamic worship, limits the writ of the Mutawwa, and permits women to leave the house.

The Ikhwan approach to Islam did not die in 1930, however. It retreated and 2_kommentartained a hold over rearguard elements. As the Saudi monarchy blossomed in the oil age into an ever more inflated and hypocritical institution, the appeal of the Ikhwan message gained ground. This purist appeal first reached world attention in 1979, when an Ikhwan-like group of youths overtook the Grand Mosque in Mecca and held it for two weeks. The same Ikhwan-like approach emerged in Saudi-sponsored Mujaheddin efforts to push the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan in 1979-89. The Taliban regime embodied this approach during its five years in power, until the US-led war brought it down in 2001.

Among Saudis today, the Ikhwan approach has many prominent spokesmen, including leading sheikhs and, of course, Osama bin Laden. A Saudi national who spent his formative years fighting with the Afghan Mujaheddin, bin Laden has no patience with the Saudi monarchy, which he sees as crooked financially and dominated by the US politically. In its place he seeks to build an Ikhwan-like government that would impose more rigorously Islamic virtues and adopt a stalwart Islamic foreign policy.

Support the lesser evil [in Saudi Arabia]
by Daniel Pipes
The Australian
May 31, 2004