Soiled Truths and Lost Ways: an intro

This series will seek to examine the sweeping rise of Saudi Arabia as a regional and global player. Since their conception, the Saudi dynasty has been heavily linked to Wahhabism, and their close ties have led to overlapping influences. A fundamentalist attitude to Islam, designed to regress to the first teachings of Islam, Wahhabism has been used synonymously with Salafism. However, Wahhabism can be seen as an even more orthodox ideology within the ultraconservative Salafi thought. Its influence in Saudi Arabian politics is undeniable and a key factor behind the Saudi’s regional engagements. Throughout the process, the vocal point will be Wahhabism, and just what it has preached, now and then.

The current state of Saudi Arabia was formed following the uniting of the region’s four districts: Hajaz, Najd (Riyadh), Al-Ahsa, ‘Asir in 1932 by Ibn Saud. Following the discovering of petroleum, Saudi Arabia has risen to become one of the world’s largest producers and exporters in oil, holding some of the largest oil and gas reserves in the world. On the back of its oil industry, Saudi Arabia has become a regional and global power. They have been able to transform this economic strength into influence through the Middle East, and this is where the problem exponentially expands. Integral to Wahhabi thought is the mission to spread their ‘purified’ form of Islam throughout the world. This has manifested in hostility to secular regimes and opposing forms of Islam through sponsoring certain groups and movements. Herein lies the problem with Saudi Arabia. Due to the inherent belief of Wahhabi thought that the establishment of their version of an Islamic State is the utmost goal, the means to achieve this become justified. This translates into the validation of force, or ‘jihad’ as it has been understood by this Islamic faction.

Wahhabism has a long and apparent history, and its contemporary impact is palpable, particularly within terrorist organisations, yet it is vital that its relationship to state actors like Saudi Arabia is analysed. We will also be exploring the relationship of the West with Saudi, and the implications of this alliance for the region. The next piece will take us all the way to the beginning, right where it all began…


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